Angela Rayner: I’ll step down if police find I committed a criminal offence

Angela Rayner has promised to step down if police find she committed a criminal offence in the ongoing row over the sale of her council house a decade ago.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is looking into claims she gave false information about where she was living, which she denies.

Ms Rayner insists the controversy over whether she should have paid capital gains tax on the sale has been “manufactured,” and has accused the Conservatives of attempting to “smear” her.

“I am completely confident I’ve followed the rules at all times,” she said in a statement on Friday evening.

“We have seen the Tory party use this playbook before – reporting political opponents to the police during election campaigns to distract from their record. I will say as I did before – if I committed a criminal offence, I would of course do the right thing and step down. The British public deserves politicians who know the rules apply to them.”

The police investigation came as Rishi Sunak suffered his own setback, with the resignation of a third minister in as many weeks. Energy minister Graham Stuart said he would “fully support” the prime minister from the backbenches but wanted to focus on issues in his constituency instead.

The MP for Beverley and Holderness in Yorkshire has a majority of more than 20,000 – but Labour last year overturned a similar figure in a similar Tory stronghold, Selby and Ainsty.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has faced Tory accusations over her living situation in recent weeks (PA Wire)
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has faced Tory accusations over her living situation in recent weeks (PA Wire)

Under electoral law, voters must register at their permanent home and can face penalties for false information.

GMP originally said that Ms Rayner would not face an investigation. However, it agreed to “review the circumstances” last month after the Conservative Party deputy chair, James Daly, made the force aware of neighbours who have contradicted Ms Rayner’s statement that the property, which was separate from her husband’s, was her main home. On Friday, a spokesperson said it was now “investigating whether any offences have been committed”.

The row erupted when former Tory deputy chair, Lord Ashcroft, suggested, in his book Red Queen? The Unauthorised Biography of Angela Rayner, that Ms Rayner had failed to properly declare her main residence.

It led to claims Ms Rayner may owe capital gains tax on the 2015 sale of her Stockport home. She turned a £48,500 profit on the house, which she bought in 2007 with a 25 per cent discount.

Government guidance says a tenant can apply to buy their council home through the right-to-buy scheme if it is their “only or main home”.

Her husband was listed at another address around a mile away.

Ms Rayner is also said to have re-registered the births of her two youngest children to the address where her husband resided.

She has insisted that her Vicarage Road home was her “principal property” despite her husband living elsewhere at the time. It was reported last weekend that Ms Rayner had described his house as “home” in tweets at the time.

She has accused Lord Ashcroft of an “unhealthy interest” in her family life and of wanting to “kick down at people like me who graft hard in tough circumstances to get on in life”.

A Labour spokesperson said: “Angela welcomes the chance to set out the facts with the police. We remain completely confident that Angela has complied with the rules at all times and it’s now appropriate to let the police do its work.”

Defence secretary Grant Shapps accused Ms Rayner, who called for Boris Johnson to quit as prime minister after police launched an investigation into whether he had breached lockdown rules, of “double standards”.

He said: “Angela Rayner herself has spent her political career calling people out for exactly the thing she seems to be doing now. It’s not acceptable to ignore it. This is something which is a serious matter, it’s important that it’s looked into properly and I welcome the idea that the police are doing that."

In her statement on Friday, Ms Rayner said: “The questions raised relate to a time before I was an MP and I have set out my family’s circumstances and taken expert tax and legal advice. I look forward to setting out the facts with the relevant authorities at the earliest opportunity.”