Angela Eagle

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Angela Eagle
Angela Eagle Ministerial portrait cropped.jpg
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Assumed office
7 October 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded by Hilary Benn
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
8 October 2010 – 7 October 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Liam Byrne
Succeeded by Rachel Reeves
Minister for Pensions and Ageing Society
In office
8 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Rosie Winterton
Succeeded by Steve Webb
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
In office
29 June 2007 – 8 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Phillip Oppenheim (1997)
Succeeded by Kitty Ussher
Member of Parliament
for Wallasey
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Lynda Chalker
Majority 16,348 (37.7%)
Personal details
Born (1961-02-17) 17 February 1961 (age 54)
Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Maria Exall
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Website Official website

Angela Eagle (born 17 February 1961) is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wallasey since 1992. She served as the Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society from June 2009 until May 2010. Eagle was elected to the Shadow Cabinet in October 2010 and was appointed by Ed Miliband to be Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.[1][2] On 7 October 2011, she was appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons when Miliband reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet.

Education and early employment[edit]

Born in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire,[3] the daughter of a printworker, she was educated at St. Peter's C of E Primary School and Formby High School. In 1976, Eagle was joint winner of the British Girls' Under-18 chess championship. She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St John's College, Oxford, graduating from the university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1983. While at Oxford, she was also chairwoman of the Oxford University Fabian Society during 1980-1983.

In 1984 she worked in the economic directorate of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), before joining the Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE) trade union where she held a number of positions. She was elected secretary for the Constituency Labour Party in Peckham for two years from 1989.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Backbencher and first period as government minister[edit]

Eagle was first elected to parliament in the 1992 election, defeating by 3,809 votes the Conservative Minister for Overseas Development at the Foreign Office Lynda Chalker .

In parliament she became a member of the Employment Select Committee in 1994, and was promoted by Tony Blair in 1996 to the position of an Opposition Whip, and became a member of the Blair government following the 1997 general election as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, moving to the Department of Social Security in 1998. Following the 2001 general election, she was a junior minister at the Home Office but was sacked by Blair in 2002, reputedly in error.[4] She was a member of the Treasury Select Committee after 2003.

Brown government minister[edit]

She returned to the government under Gordon Brown on 29 June 2007 as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, the most junior minister at HM Treasury. She was promoted to Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions in the June 2009 reshuffle.

In April 2008 Eagle took part in a debate in Parliament on the UK economy in which the Liberal Democrats tabled a motion suggesting that the country was facing an "extreme bubble in the housing market" and the "risk of recession". Eagle responded stating "Fortunately for all of us...that colourful and lurid fiction has no real bearing on the macro-economic reality."[5] In 2009 Jeremy Browne, who led the debate reflected on her comments, stating "A year ago, Angela Eagle’s comments summed up the Government’s delusional attitude. We had been warning for months that we faced a housing market collapse and a serious recession, but ministers did not want to hear it. Their failure to face up to reality left the country dangerously unprepared for the crisis that now confronts us."[6]

In opposition[edit]

Following Ed Miliband's accession to Labour Leader, Eagle was elected to his shadow cabinet, finishing tied 4th in the vote and was subsequently appointed to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury briefing, shadowing Danny Alexander.

In April 2011, Eagle was put down in the House of Commons by prime minister David Cameron when he used Michael Winner's catchphrase "Calm down, dear". Eagle's colleague, deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, stated "Women in Britain in the 21st century do not expect to be told to 'calm down, dear' by their Prime Minister", with Labour officials calling for an apology, suggesting the remark was patronising and sexist.[7]

In June 2012, Eagle criticised Take That singer Gary Barlow in the House of Commons following newspaper allegations of tax avoidance made against him. Eagle criticised his recent award of the OBE and claimed in the House of Commons that Barlow had "given a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Take That'," as well as questioning why Prime Minister David Cameron hadn't criticised Barlow publicly in the same way he had criticised comedian Jimmy Carr for tax avoidance.[8]

After the resignation of Miliband and deputy Harriet Harman following Labour's defeat at the 2015 general election, Eagle stood in the Labour Party deputy leadership election.[9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Eagle is an openly lesbian MP, coming out in September 1997 in an interview with The Observer.[11] Some reports state she is first openly lesbian MP, but Maureen Colquhoun is also reported as an earlier openly lesbian MP in the 1970s.[12] In September 2008, Eagle entered into a civil partnership with Maria Exall.[13][14]

Eagle was joined in the House of Commons at the 1997 general election by her twin sister, Maria Eagle; they thus became the first set of twins to sit in the House. She and her sister are currently the only pair of sisters in the Commons. She was ranked in the top 50 on The Independent's "Pink List" of the 101 most influential gay men and women in Britain 2009.[15]


  1. ^ Shadow Cabinet Election Results Labour Party, 7 October 2010
  2. ^ "Shadow Cabinet Positions". BBC News. 8 October 2010. 
  3. ^ "The Biography of Angela Eagle". Angela Eagle. 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2010. 
  4. ^ McBride, Damian (20 September 2013). "'I'll put troops on the streets': Gordon Brown's spin doctor reveals just how close to anarchy Britain came when the banks crashed". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 20 September 2013. in 2002, Tony forgot Home Office minister Angela Eagle existed, gave someone else her job and effectively sacked her from the government by mistake — and without informing her. 
  5. ^ Commons sketch: Brownite troops facing their Stalingrad Telegraph, 10 November 2008
  6. ^ Quotes come back to haunt minister Western Morning News, 2 April 2009
  7. ^ David Cameron Backed By Michael Winner After Being Accused Of Sexism For 'Calm Down, Dear' Phrase | Politics | Sky News
  8. ^ "Cameron ducks Gary Barlow tax avoidance question". BBC News. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (18 May 2015). "Angela Eagle announces that she will stand to be deputy Labour leader". New Statesman. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Wilkinson, Michael (17 June 2015). "Meet Labour's deputy leadership contenders". Daily Telegrapgh. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  11. ^ London South Bank University[dead link]
  12. ^ "A history of Christmas scandal past". BBC. 22 December 1998. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  13. ^ Angela Eagle: My pride at being first lesbian MP to ‘marry’ Liverpool Daily Post, 11 September 2008
  14. ^ MP sets civil ceremony precedent BBC News, 27 September 2008
  15. ^ "Gay Power: The Pink List 2009". The Independent. 2 July 2009. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lynda Chalker
Member of Parliament
for Wallasey

Political offices
Title last held by
Phillip Oppenheim
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Kitty Ussher
Preceded by
Rosie Winterton
Minister of State for Pensions and Ageing Society
Succeeded by
Steve Webb
Preceded by
Liam Byrne
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Rachel Reeves
Preceded by
Hilary Benn
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons