Who is Rachel Reeves? What to know about the UK’s first female chancellor

Rachel Reeves, a former Bank of England economist, is set to become the UK’s first-ever female chancellor – it only took us what? 700 years?

Women’s representation in parliament has historically been paltry, to say the least. Indeed, we were only granted the right to run for office in 1918, and since then, we’ve only had three female Prime Ministers. But things are changing.

In addition to the biggest Labour landslide since 1997, this year’s general election saw a record number of women elected as MPs. This includes Rachel Reeves, who won her constituency by over 10,000 votes and is poised to replace Conservative MP Jeremy Hunt as the UK’s new Chancellor of the Exchequer.

As the government’s chief financial officer, the chancellor is responsible for sorting out taxes, allocating public spending, and keeping the economy running smoothly – which is presented in an annual budget.

So, who is the woman about to take on this immense responsibility? Here’s everything we know about Rachel Reeves, including her upbringing, career, economic plans for the UK…

Who is Rachel Reeves?

Rachel Reeves has been the Labour MP for Leeds West (and following a boundary change, Pudsey) since 2010, having joined the party as a teenager.

Image may contain Rachel Reeves Alexandre Frota Crowd Person Electrical Device Microphone Adult and Accessories

Rachel Reeves is expected to be appointed as the UK’s next Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Christopher Furlong

Rachel’s connection to the Labour Party runs deep; she is the older sister of Ellie Reeves, the Labour MP for Lewisham and Penge West, and is married to Nicholas Joicey, a civil servant and former speech writer to Gordon Brown, who was the Labour Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010.

Reeve’s father taught her how to play chess as a child. And he did a good job; by age 14, she was the British girls’ chess champion.

She went on to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford before completing a Master’s in Economics from LSE and landing her first post-graduate job with the Bank of England.

Her first foray into parliamentary politics was back in 2005 when she stood in the Conservative safe seat of Bromley and Chislehurst, finishing second. After a humiliating defeat during the 2006 by-elections, Reeves next stood for parliament in the Leeds West seat at the 2010 general election, which she won.

In the same year, Reeves was appointed to her first shadow ministerial role in the Department for Work and Pensions. She soon worked her way up the ranks of the Labour Party and was appointed shadow work and pensions secretary in 2013. Her policies have not always been popular – in fact, she was heavily criticised for her stance on welfare, saying, “We are not the party of people on benefits.”

When Sir Keir Starmer was elected as leader of the Labour Party back in 2020, he appointed Reeves as his Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, coordinating Labour’s response to Brexit. She was later moved into the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer role in 2021.

Reeves has written multiple books, including Why Vote Labour? in 2010, a biography of Labour politician Alice Bacon in 2017, and Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics in 2020. Her 2023 book, The Women Who Made Modern Economics, was criticised for apparently lifting sentences from Wikipedia and other websites. Reflecting on the debacle, Reeves said she “should have done better”.

Source link