PMQs: Angela Rayner shares leadership ‘aspirations’
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On Wednesday, Boris Johnson and deputy Labour leader Ms Rayner clashed at Prime Minister’s Questions in the absence of Sir Keir Starmer, who had tested positive for Covid. Ms Rayner repeated Labour’s call for the 5 percent VAT rate on energy bills to be suspended, arguing that it would help low-income families cope with the soaring cost of living. She demanded “serious solutions” from the Prime Minister and said working families were “picking up the tab” for Mr Johnson’s “incompetent leadership”.
Mr Johnson rejected this however, insisting that the Government was providing a number of schemes to address the issue.
He then accused staunch Remainer Ms Rayner of “bare faced cheek” in calling for VAT rates on energy bills to be slashed, insisting that such a course of action would have been impossible inside the EU.
Ms Rayner is one of the most recognisable members of the Labour Party, having been deputy leader of the Opposition for nearly two years.
However, Mr Evans, who is a Sociology of Politics professor at the University of Oxford claimed that she would not be an effective Labour leader as Ms Rayner “won’t be taken seriously” by wavering Tory voters.
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The political scientist told Express.co.uk: “There isn’t anybody in the Labour party currently who could replace Starmer convincingly.
“Rayner is entertaining and sincere but she is not going to be taken seriously as a grown up politician to steal a lot of waverers.
“And you’ve also got to keep in mind that although we’ve seen the Tories drop behind Labour in the polls, there’s a lot of people who are saying they ‘don’t know’.
“Most of those people who are saying they don’t know are Tory voters ‒ it’s not like they’ve left the Tories and gone to somebody else.
“They’ve not swung to anyone else and what we know is it’s more than likely when it comes down to more serious stuff like elections and things they’ll swing back with the party again.”
A new poll published in the Mail on Sunday last week suggested that Sir Keir had won back ‘red wall’ voters.
The Deltapoll survey found that of the 57 constituencies gained by the Tory party in 2019, 38 percent of voters agreed the Labour leader would make the best Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson was supported by only 33 percent of those surveyed.
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Meanwhile the poll also projected that Labour were five points ahead of the Conservative party nationally, and if the results were repeated in a General Election it would cost the Tories more than 100 seats.
The Tory Party’s popularity has plummeted after a terrible December in which they repeatedly faced allegations that they had broken coronavirus rules a year earlier by holding a Christmas party the year before.
However, Mr Evans believes that Mr Johnson, who has also faced scrutiny from many within his party over his response to the spread of Omicron, is likely to survive the recent tumultuous period.
Mr Evans said: “Boris, a bit like [Tony] Blair, has been seen as a massive asset [in elections].
“I can’t predict with certainty that he’ll maintain this degree of being an asset, but he’s the sort of character who can.
“He’s treading the centre ground as judiciously as somebody could possibly do I would say.
“He’s not conducting himself badly.
“He’s really trying to play down the centre [of his party] ‒ on the one side hardcore lockdowners, on the other, hardcore anti-lockdowners.
“He’s struggling in the middle.
“If he gets through this I could quite easily see him being buoyant again.”
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