Angela Eagle

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Angela Eagle
Official portrait of Ms Angela Eagle crop 2.jpg
Shadow First Secretary of State
In office
13 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Shadowing George Osborne
Preceded by Hilary Benn (Acting)
Succeeded by Emily Thornberry (2017)
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
In office
13 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded by Chuka Umunna
Succeeded by Jon Trickett
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
7 October 2011 – 13 September 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded by Hilary Benn
Succeeded by Chris Bryant
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 23,320 (48.3%)
Personal details
Born (1961-02-17) 17 February 1961 (age 56)
Bridlington, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Maria Exall
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford

Angela Eagle (born 17 February 1961) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wallasey since the 1992 general election. Eagle was born in Yorkshire and studied PPE at Oxford University, before working for the CBI and then a trade union.

Eagle 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]

In October 2011, she was appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons when Miliband reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet. She was appointed as both Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in September 2015 in Jeremy Corbyn's first Shadow Cabinet. She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in June 2016. Eagle announced a leadership challenge to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on 11 July 2016, but eight days later she withdrew leaving Owen Smith to challenge Corbyn for the leadership.[3] Eagle is the twin sister of fellow Labour MP Maria Eagle.

Education and early employment[edit]

Eagle was born in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, the daughter of Shirley (Kirk), a factory worker, and André Eagle, a print worker.[4][5] She was educated at St. Peter's C of E Primary School and Formby High School.[6] She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St John's College, Oxford, graduating from the university with a second-class Bachelor of Arts degree in 1983.[7] While at Oxford, she was also chairwoman of the Oxford University Fabian Society during 1980–1983.[8] In 1976, Eagle was joint winner of the British Girls' Under-18 chess championship.[9]

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.[citation needed]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Backbencher and first period as government minister[edit]

Eagle was first elected to parliament as member for Wallasey in the 1992 election, defeating by 3,809 votes the Conservative Minister for Overseas Development at the Foreign Office Lynda Chalker. Allegations were made about irregularities in her selection as parliamentary candidate, including the exclusion of a local favourite from the shortlist of candidates, and in the vote count itself.[10]

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, reported in error.[11][12] She was a member of the Treasury Select Committee after January 2003.[13]

Eagle voted in favour of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and repeatedly against investigating it in 2003, 2006, and 2007.[14]

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, "Fortunately for all of us … that colourful and lurid fiction has no real bearing on the macro-economic reality."[15] A year later Jeremy Browne, who led the original debate, said her comments "summed up the Government's delusional attitude" towards warnings of financial crisis.[16]

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, said: "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.[17][18]

In the October 2011 reshuffle, Eagle became Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.[19]

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 had not criticised Barlow publicly in the same way he had criticised comedian Jimmy Carr for tax avoidance.[20]

In May 2012, Eagle became chair of the Labour Party's National Policy Forum[21] and served as chair of the party's National Executive Committee 2013–14.[22]

Eagle "on the vast majority of issues votes the same way as other Labour MPs."[23]

Deputy leadership election[edit]

Speaking at a 2015 deputy leadership election meeting in Bath

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.[24][25]

Eagle was nominated by 32 Constituency Labour Parties and trade unions UNISON,[26] CWU,[27] TSSA,[27] and UCATT[26] and received joint support from Unite for her and fellow candidate Tom Watson.[28] Eagle came fourth to eventual winner Tom Watson, with 16.2% in the first round, and was eliminated in the second round on 17.9% of the vote.[29]

Corbyn shadow cabinet[edit]

Following the leadership election, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed Eagle as Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Business Secretary in September 2015.[30]

Angela Eagle resigned from these positions on 27 June 2016 in the mass resignation of the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the vote for Leave in the EU membership referendum.[31] Eagle had campaigned for the Remain side in the 2016 EU referendum.

Leadership challenge[edit]

After the 28 June 2016 vote of no confidence by Labour MPs in Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, Eagle was reported as considering a challenge for the leadership of the Labour Party, and said she would do so if Corbyn did not resign.[32][33] Eagle's Constituency Labour Party in Wallasey were in favour of Corbyn remaining as Party leader and called upon Eagle to support Corbyn as leader.[34][35]

Eagle asserted that: "I'm not a Blairite. I'm not a Brownite... I am my own woman, a strong Labour woman."[36] George Eaton of the New Statesman reported that backers of the other potential challenger, Owen Smith, contended that Eagle's 2003 vote in support for the Iraq War and her support for extending airstrikes against ISIS into Syria (in December 2015) might have harm her bid against Corbyn,[37][38] Gary Younge of The Guardian thought it was less clear what Eagle wanted in place of Corbyn's politics.[39]

Eagle announced a leadership challenge to Corbyn on 11 July, saying that "Jeremy Corbyn is unable to provide the leadership this huge task needs. I believe I can".[40] The following day a brick was thrown through a downstairs window at her constituency office address, and it was reported that her staff had stopped answering the telephones because of "abusive" calls. Her local party in Wallasey declared their support for Jeremy Corbyn as party leader "with an overwhelming majority" and proposed a vote of no-confidence in Eagle.[41] This did not take place as the NEC decided to suspend all Labour constituency party meetings during the leadership election.[42] Eagle herself received hundreds of abusive and homophobic messages at this time.[43]

On Tuesday 19 July 2016, Eagle announced she was withdrawing from the leadership election and would back the other candidate opposing Corbyn, Owen Smith, who had received about 20 more nominations from MPs and MEPs than she had. "We need to have a strong and united party so we can be a good opposition, take the fight to the Conservative Government and heal our country. So I am announcing that I will be supporting Owen in that endeavour with all my enthusiasm and might," Eagle said in an interview.[3]

With the support of Eagle, Wallasey Constituency Labour Party was suspended on 20 July 2016 over claims of bullying.[44] It emerged on 21 July that the police have advised Eagle not to hold any open constituency surgeries over fears for her safety, advice which she has agreed to follow with regret.[45][46]

An internal Labour Party investigation concerning complaints about incidents in Eagle's Constituency Labour Party and other events during her leadership campaign reported in October 2016. It confirmed that she had received homophobic abuse during a CLP annual general meeting earlier in the year.[47] "It’s highly likely that the brick thrown through the window of Angela Eagle’s office was related to her leadership challenge". "The position of the window made it very unlikely that this was" an action of "a random passerby" and it "was directly between two Labour offices". The claim "that the building was occupied by many companies and the window was in an unrelated stairwell" was misleading as "the landlord had a number of companies registered there; in fact the only other occupant is the landlord on the upper floor".[43]

Personal life[edit]

Eagle was joined in the House of Commons at the 1997 general election by her twin sister, Maria Eagle.[N 1] The Eagles are the only pair of sisters in the Commons. They are identical twins.[49]

Eagle is a lesbian, coming out in a newspaper interview in September 1997.[50][51] She is the second openly lesbian MP, after Maureen Colquhoun in the 1970s.[52] In September 2008, Eagle entered into a civil partnership with Maria Exall[53][54] who is also involved in the Labour Party through the National Committee. She was placed in the top 50 of The Independent's "Pink List" for 2009 of the 101 most influential gays and lesbians in Britain.[55]


  1. ^ They are sometimes incorrectly described as the first pair of twins to sit in the Commons together, but in fact the first set of twins is believed to have been James and Richard Grenville, who sat together for Buckingham between 1774 and 1780.[48]


  1. ^ "Shadow Cabinet Election Results". Labour Party. 7 October 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "Shadow Cabinet Positions". BBC News. 8 October 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Grice, Andrew (19 July 2016). "Labour leadership election: Angela Eagle pulls out of contest to allow Owen Smith straight run at Jeremy Corbyn". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  4. ^ "Bio - Angela Eagle MP". 17 February 1961. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "Westminster Women - L McDougall, Linda McDougall". 31 January 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Bedell, Geraldine (14 November 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's top woman: Angela Eagle on a journey through Labour". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "Bachelor of Arts degree". Sunday Times. 12 April 1992. 
  8. ^ "Angela Eagle MP Labour MP and Patron of the BHA". 7 October 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  9. ^ Kinnock, Stephen (25 April 2016). "Stephen Kinnock on hating to lose, getting Corbyn to tell jokes and giving journalists a kicking". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Heffernan, Richard; Marqusee, Mike (1992). Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Inside Kinnock's Labour Party. London and New York, NY: Verso. p. 281. ISBN 0-86091-561-1. 
  11. ^ Crampton, Caroline (9 June 2015). "Angela Eagle: "We just have to get over it and get on with it"". New Statesman. Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  12. ^ Bedell, Geraldine (24 November 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's top woman: Angela Eagle on a journey through Labour". The Independent. Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  13. ^ "Ms Angela Eagle MP". Parliament UK. Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  14. ^ Stone, Jon (10 July 2016). "What does Angela Eagle believe? Her voting record from Iraq to welfare cuts to the NHS". The Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  15. ^ "Commons sketch: Brownite troops facing their Stalingrad". The Daily Telegraph. London. 10 November 2008. 
  16. ^ "financial crisis". Western Morning News. 2 April 2009. 
  17. ^ Kuenssberg, Laura (27 April 2011). "David Cameron criticised for 'calm down dear' jibe". BBC News. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  18. ^ Wintour, Patrick (27 April 2011). "Labour fury as David Cameron tells Angela Eagle: 'Calm down, dear'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  19. ^ "Labour reshuffle: the new shadow cabinet". The Daily Telegraph. 7 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Cameron ducks Gary Barlow tax avoidance question". BBC News. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  21. ^ Wintour, Patrick. "Jon Cruddas to co-ordinate Labour's policy review". The Guardian. 
  22. ^ "Is this Labour's "Year of the Eagle"?". LabourList – Labour's biggest independent grassroots e-network. 
  23. ^ "Eagle's page on the TheyWorkForYou website". 
  24. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (18 May 2015). "Angela Eagle announces that she will stand to be deputy Labour leader". New Statesman. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  25. ^ Wilkinson, Michael (17 June 2015). "Meet Labour's deputy leadership contenders". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Stewart, Gary (29 July 2015). "Wallasey MP Angela Eagle secures Unison's backing for Labour Party deputy leader campaign". Liverpool Echo. 
  27. ^ a b "Corbyn bags two more unions". Sun Nation. 
  28. ^ Smith, Mikey (5 July 2015). "Unite union backs Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership". Daily Mirror. 
  29. ^ "Labour leadership results in full". BBC News. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  30. ^ Murphy, Liam (14 September 2015). "Angela Eagle misses out on Labour top job as Jeremy Corbyn announces shadow cabinet". Liverpool Echo. 
  31. ^ Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  32. ^ "Eagle may delay leader bid 'to give Corbyn time to quit'". BBC News. 30 June 2016. 
  33. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (4 July 2016). "Labour coup: Angela Eagle goes public with threat to run against Jeremy Corbyn unless he resigns". The Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  34. ^ Waugh, Paul (28 June 2016). "Angela Eagle's Local Party Has Backed Jeremy Corbyn". Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 
  35. ^ "Angela Eagle under pressure from Wallasey Labour party over Corbyn vote". Wirral Globe. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  36. ^ Murphy, Joe (11 July 2016). "Labour leadership: I'm not a Corbynista, I'm my own woman, says Angela Eagle". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  37. ^ Eaton, George (30 June 2016). "Why the Labour rebels have delayed their leadership challenge". New Statesman. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  38. ^ "Iraq War". Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  39. ^ Young, Gary (11 July 2016). "There was not one idea about what she would do". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  40. ^ "Labour leadership: Angela Eagle says she can unite the party". BBC News. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  41. ^ Vulliamy, Elsa (12 July 2016). "Angela Eagle leadership bid: Brick thrown through window of MP's constituency office after she challenges Jeremy Corbyn". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  42. ^ Fenton, Siobhan (17 July 2016). "Angela Eagle dismisses threat of no confidence vote from her own constituency". The Independent. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  43. ^ a b Mason, Rowena (19 October 2016). "Angela Eagle received hundreds of homophobic messages from Labour members". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  44. ^ "Wallasey Labour Party group suspended over bullying complaints". BBC News. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  45. ^ Walker, Peter (21 July 2016). "Angela Eagle stops walk-in surgeries amid security concerns". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  46. ^ "Police warn Angela Eagle of safety risks". Reuters. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  47. ^ Preston, Dominic (19 October 2016). "Labour Party report confirms Angela Eagle was targeted by homophobic abuse". PinkNews. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  48. ^ Farrell, Stephen. "Twins in Parliament: the Grenvilles and Buckingham Borough, 1774". The History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  49. ^ Rumbelow, Helen (1 November 2010). "Twin ambition: Angela and Maria Eagle". The Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  50. ^ Moore, Suzanne (11 September 1997). "'I need to get things sorted'". The Independent. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  51. ^ Syal, Rajeev (23 June 2015). "Labour deputy leadership: Angela Eagle calls for more diversity at top of party". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  52. ^ "A history of Christmas scandal past". BBC News. 22 December 1998. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  53. ^ "Angela Eagle: My pride at being first lesbian MP to 'marry'". Liverpool Daily Post. 11 September 2008. 
  54. ^ "MP sets civil ceremony precedent". BBC News. 27 September 2008. 
  55. ^ "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
as Acting Shadow First Secretary of State
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Chris Bryant
Shadow First Secretary of State
Title next held by
Emily Thornberry
Preceded by
Chuka Umunna
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Succeeded by
Jon Trickett
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harriet Yeo
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Jim Kennedy