Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Organization: Her Majesty's Treasury (HM Treasury)
Date of Birth: 13 February 1979
Age: 44 years old
Place of Birth: Lewisham, London, England
Rachel Jane Reeves (born 13 February 1979) is a British politician serving as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer since 2021. A member of the Labour Party, she has been Member of Parliament for Leeds West since 2010.
Born in Lewisham, Reeves studied at New College, Oxford and the London School of Economics before working as an economist at the Bank of England, the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. and HBOS. Elected at the 2010 general election, she served in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2011 to 2013 and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2013 to 2015. As Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Reeves announced Labour would be tougher than the Conservatives in reducing the benefits bill and would not seek to represent those out of work.
Reeves did not return to the Shadow Cabinet following Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader in 2015, instead serving as chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee from 2017 to 2020. After Keir Starmer was elected as leader in 2020, he appointed Reeves as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, shadowing Michael Gove. In May 2021, she replaced Anneliese Dodds as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Early life and career
The daughter of Graham and Sally Reeves of Lewisham, south-east London, Reeves was educated at Cator Park School for Girls in Bromley. At school, she won a British Under-14 girls chess championship title in a tournament organised by the now-defunct British Women's Chess Association. After sitting A-Levels in Politics, Economics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics, she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at New College, Oxford (MA), followed by graduating as MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. She worked as an economist at the Bank of England and British Embassy in Washington, D.C. between 2000 and 2006. Reeves moved to Leeds in 2006 to work for HBOS. She was once interviewed for a job at Goldman Sachs, but turned it down, despite claiming that the job could have made her "a lot richer".
Reeves cites the influence of her father on her and her sister Ellie Reeves on her socially democratic politics. She recalls how, when she was eight years old, her father, Graham, pointed out the then-Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock on the television and "told us that was who we voted for". Reeves says she and her sister have "both known we were Labour since then". She joined the Labour Party at the age of sixteen.
Reeves stood as the Labour Party parliamentary candidate in the Conservative safe seat of Bromley and Chislehurst at the 2005 general election, finishing second. She also contested the 2006 by-election in the same constituency, following the death of sitting Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Eric Forth, and finished in fourth place. Labour support fell from 10,241 votes to 1,925, in what was described as a "humiliation" for Labour. The result was the worst performance for a governing party since 1991.
Reeves later sought nomination for the Leeds West seat at the 2010 general election, seeking to replace John Battle, who had chosen to retire. She was selected to contest the seat from an all-women shortlist of Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidates. She was elected with a majority of 7,016 on 6 May 2010 – a 5,794 reduction in the majority enjoyed by Battle. In her maiden speech, delivered on 8 June 2010, Reeves praised the work of Battle and pledged to fight for jobs, growth and prosperity for Leeds West. She also pledged to follow in Battle's footsteps and fight for justice for the victims of the Armley asbestos disaster and their families. In a series of questions in Parliament, she enquired whether the government would honour promises by the previous government to compensate victims of asbestos diagnosed with pleural plaques, and bring legislation into force making it easier to pursue claims against insurers.
Following the 2010 election, Reeves supported Ed Miliband for the Labour leadership because she felt he was the candidate most willing to listen to what the voters were saying about where the party went wrong. After becoming an MP, Reeves was appointed to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee then as Shadow Pensions Minister in October 2010. In her role as Shadow Pensions Minister, she campaigned against the Government's proposed acceleration of equalising state pensions ages for men and women. She was promoted to the post of Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in October 2011.
Reeves was named in 2011 by The Guardian newspaper as being one of several MPs who employ unpaid interns, a practice that some maintain may breach the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. The same year, The Independent named Reeves as a member of a group of new Labour MPs known as the "Nando's Five", the others being Luciana Berger, Jonathan Reynolds, Emma Reynolds and Chuka Umunna.
Appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2013, Reeves proposed that anyone unemployed for two years, or one year if under 25 years old, would be required to take a guaranteed job or lose access to benefits. She caused controversy within the Labour Party by stating Labour would be "tougher" than the Conservative Party in cutting the benefits bill. She caused further controversy in early 2015 by stating "We [Labour] don’t want to be seen, and we're not, the party to represent those who are out of work".
Reeves's parliamentary credit card was stopped at the start of 2015, owing to a debt of £4,033.63, which she subsequently repaid. In 2018, she claimed £188,686 in expenses, of which £149,514 was in staffing costs and £22,089 in office costs, £30,422 more than the average parliamentary claim of £158,264.
Following Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader in 2015, Reeves did not return to the Shadow Cabinet after her maternity leave and supported Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party leadership election. In September 2016, Reeves described her constituency as being "like a tinderbox" that could explode if immigration was not curbed. In 2017, conservative commentator Iain Dale placed Reeves at Number 94 on his list of the '100 most influential people on the Left', down ten places on the previous year.
When Keir Starmer became Labour leader in 2020, Reeves was appointed as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with responsibility for Labour's response to Brexit and shadowing Michael Gove. She was promoted to the role of Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in a shadow cabinet reshuffle on 9 May 2021, replacing Anneliese Dodds.
Political positions and views
Reeves has written studies on the financial crisis of 2007–2010 for the Fabian Review, Institute of Public Policy Research, Socialist Environment and Resources Association, and the European Journal of Political Economy. In an article for Renewal entitled "The Politics of Deficit Reduction", Reeves offers her critique of the then-current financial situation and efforts to bring down the budget deficit.
Reeves is a proponent of quantitative easing to alleviate the late-2000s recession, having studied the effects of the policy on Japan in the early 2000s.
Reeves supports the High Speed 2 rail project, and raised the issue in the House of Commons, as well as campaigning for the proposed Kirkstall Forge railway station. She is also involved in the campaign to save the historic Bramley Baths and the campaign to save the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
Reeves is a vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, contributed a chapter to a book about Israeli politics and society, and supports the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.
Reeves has been a long-standing admirer of Nancy Astor and has frequently praised her actions as an MP.
Echoing similar titles of publications by Roy Jenkins in 1959 and Tony Wright in 1997, Reeves wrote the new edition of Why Vote Labour? in the run-up to the 2010 general election, as part of a series giving the case for each of the main political parties.
Reeves's biography of the Labour politician Alice Bacon, Baroness Bacon (1909–1993), titled Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon, was published in 2017. Bacon was the first and previously only woman to represent a Leeds constituency, having represented Leeds North East and then Leeds South East between 1945 and 1970.
She regularly contributes to The Guardian newspaper, as well as the websites LabourList and Progress.
Reeves is married to Nicholas Joicey, a civil servant and Gordon Brown's former private secretary and speech writer. The couple have homes in Bramley in Leeds and London. Reeves announced her first pregnancy on 20 September 2012, giving birth to a daughter. She subsequently gave birth to a son in 2015.
Reeves's younger sister, Ellie Reeves, is the Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge and is married to John Cryer, Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead.
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