Angela Rayner accuses Tories of ‘desperate tactics’ as police close inquiry into her house sale

Labour deputy leader dogged for months by questions over tax affairs that threatened her political career

The Labour Party received a boost when police said they would take no further action against its deputy leader Angela Rayner after an investigation sparked by Tory complaints over her past living and tax arrangements.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the news meant Ms Rayner, who is on course to become Britain’s deputy prime minister if the party wins the election, was now free to campaign in advance of the July 4th poll.

Ms Rayner, meanwhile, criticised the Conservatives for reporting her to the police over the allegations surrounding her tax affairs and whether she had declared the correct address on official documents.

“We have seen the Conservative Party use this playbook before: reporting political opponents to the police during election campaigns to distract from their dire record,” she said. “The public have had enough of these desperate tactics from a Tory government with nothing else to say after 14 years of failure.”


The Conservatives pointed out that the issue was still in the hands of tax authorities, and called on Labour to publish tax advice that Ms Rayner said all along had showed she did nothing wrong.

The issue had overshadowed Ms Rayner for months as Tories called for her to step aside while she was under police investigation.

The row had its genesis in the 2015 sale of her house in Stockport near Manchester, and whether she was allowed to avoid paying capital gains tax on the sale. Ms Rayner said the house was her main residence, allowing her to avoid the tax, even though she was known to spend a lot of time at another property a mile away where her then husband lived.

Tories also raised doubts over whether her entries on the electoral roll were accurate and if she had paid the right council tax. Greater Manchester Police originally declined to get involved but later launched an investigation as the controversy blew up.

The row took on political significance when Ms Rayner said she would quit if she was found to have broken the law, putting her political career on the line. However on Tuesday the force said it was taking no further action. Stockport Council, which has powers over council tax, also said it was taking no action.

Britain’s tax authorities does not comment publicly on individual cases but the BBC said it was told by a Labour source the party had looked into the tax matter and concluded Ms Rayner was blameless.

“I never doubted that Angela hadn’t done anything wrong,” Mr Starmer told UK broadcasters. “Now she’s been completely cleared by police… and that means Angela can be campaigning with us.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the Tories and Labour sparred over pensions and the economy, as Labour said it would freeze income taxes and the Tories promised greater tax allowances for pensioners. On Wednesday, the election campaign is expected to move on to the health service.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times