Angela Rayner's family - teen pregnancy, husband split and 'little fighter' son (2024)

Deputy PM Angela Rayner has faced some hardships, but the tough times have helped carve her political values, and she now hopes to use them to change Britain for the better

Angela Rayner's family - teen pregnancy, husband split and 'little fighter' son (1)

Angela Rayner is now the second most important person in the UK, having been appointed as new Prime Minister Keir Starmer's deputy.

Labour took control of the country yesterday after a landslide victory against the Tories, with Conservative leader Rishi Sunak forced to issues a grovelling apology to his party. It comes after weeks of campaigning which saw Angela go head-to-head with her political counterparts.

But a bit of political wrestling is a walk in the park compared to some of the other things the Stockport-born Labour deputy has been through in her life. From falling pregnant at 16 to being told her youngest son wasn't going to survive, Angela's life experiences have shaped her left-wing values.

Much has been made of her poverty-stricken start in life - born on a council estate to parents who didn't work, Angela then became a carer to her mum, who lived with bipolar disorder, at the age of 10. "I have never had a mum-daughter relationship, I have always been the mum and my mum’s always been the one I've looked after, even now," she previously told the Mirror in 2017.

Finances were always tight and there wasn't much food to go around. “We had a giro once a fortnight and that was it,” she said at the time. “Nana used to take us round charity shops to get our uniform and worked three jobs. We used to go to Nana’s on a Sunday and she lived in a high-rise with central heating and an immersion so we all had a bath at Nana’s.” Life at home could be chaotic - her own mum was one of 12 and had dropped out of school early, so Angela had little support with her schooling.

“There was never any breakfast in the morning," she told. “I was always behind (at school) because mum couldn’t read or write, we didn’t do books. We ended up with dog meat once when she thought it was stewing steak because she just looked at the picture.”

Angela Rayner's children

Angela has three children - all boys - and became a grandmother at the age of 37 when her eldest, Ryan, then 20, welcomed his little girl Lilith Mae, sparking the nickname 'Grangela'. Ryan was born when Angela was 16 and still in school, and her decision to keep him was what spurred her on to build a better life for them both.

"Because I had a little person that I had to look after and I wanted to prove to everybody I wasn't the scumbag they thought I was going to be, and I could be a good mum, and that somebody was finally going to love me as much as I deserved to be loved," she told an audience at a Labour fringe event in 2017. "And that's what pregnancy was for me, it saved me."

And she told the Mirror that same year: "From 13/14 I was always hanging about with older boys. Boys in school used to call me names. But outside older boys would pay me attention because I looked older for my age. I was going to clubs from 14. I wanted to be loved. I didn’t intend to get pregnant, it was literally the first time.”

Ryan's dad didn't stay around, making an already difficult situation even harder for the teenage Angela. The Tories were still clinging on to power when the little boy was born in February 1997 and then Social Security Secretary Peter Lilley had castigated “young ladies who get pregnant to jump the housing queue”.

But when Tony Blair's Labour party swept into power that year, things started looking up. His government's Sure Start scheme gave Angela access to parenting classes in which they were told the importance of telling children 'I love you' and instigating cuddles with them. "I never had any of that. It wasn’t because my parents were evil, they didn’t have those skills," she said.

At 18, Angela became a carer working for a local authority, and it was the working conditions of that job that led to her getting involved in trade unionism - where she eventually met ex-husband Mark Rayner (her maiden name is Bowen).

The pair fell in love and married in 2010, welcoming sons Charlie and Jimmy. But Charlie nearly didn't survive when her waters went at 23 weeks sending her into premature labour.

A doctor told her,” There’s nothing we can do, he won’t survive,” Angela recalled in a 2018 interview. Miraculously, Charlie was born alive weighing less than 1lb and looking like a “baby sparrow”. He was so poorly that he spent the first six months of his life in a neonatal unit.

During that time he crashed three times and suffered a bleed to the brain. “One time in particular they said he wouldn’t survive, and it was not a good thing to carry on with it. I just curled up in a ball and thought, ‘That's it’,” she said.

But against the odds, her little fighter pulled through. He is registered blind and has special educational needs, but attends school and has a typical sibling relationship with his younger brother Jimmy.

Is Angela Rayner married?

Angela and her husband Mark split in 2020 and went their separate ways, although they continue to co-parent their two young sons. In the summer of 2022, Angela was linked to then-fellow Labour MP Sam Tarry, and months later the pair went public with their relationship.

In April 2023 she referred to him as her "soulmate", telling attendants at a fundraising event in his Ilford South constituency that he was "one of the most kind-hearted, amazing individuals and he’s also my soulmate".

In November 2023, the couple split with a friend telling the Mirror: “She’s been through a lot in her life but Ange is as tough as nails. You saw that this week, when she put her secret heartache aside and took the charge to the Tories at the despatch box."

*Watch the BBC's Election Debate tonight at 7.30pm on BBC One

Angela Rayner's family - teen pregnancy, husband split and 'little fighter' son (2024)
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