Angela Rayner says she will 'do right thing and step down' if found to have broken electoral law

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has said she will “do the right thing and step down” if she is found to have committed a crime as police investigate claims that she may have broken electoral law.

Police announced on Friday that they are investigating Ms Rayner over the controversy surrounding her house sale.

The bombshell development came after Labour’s deputy leader has faced weeks of questions over whether she paid the required tax when she sold her home.

The move follows claims, which she denies, that she may have broken electoral law over information she gave about her living situation a decade ago.

In a statement Ms Rayner said: “I’ve repeatedly said I would welcome the chance to sit down with the appropriate authorities, including the police and HMRC, to set out the facts and draw a line under this matter. I am completely confident I’ve followed the rules at all times.

“I have always said that integrity and accountability are important in politics. That’s why it’s important that this is urgently looked at, independently and without political interference.

“I make no apologies for having held Conservative ministers to account in the past. Indeed, the public would rightly expect me to do so as a Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

“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 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.”

A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said: “We’re investigating whether any offences have been committed. This follows a reassessment of the information provided to us by Mr Daly.”

It follows an initial complaint by Tory Party deputy chairman James Daly, MP for Bury. He followed it up by making Greater Manchester Police aware of neighbours allegedly contradicting Ms Rayner’s statement that a property, separate from her husband’s, was her main residency.

Friday’s Evening Standard second edition (Evening Standard)
Friday’s Evening Standard second edition (Evening Standard)

He claimed she may have made a false declaration about where she was living on the electoral register.

Before being elected to Parliament, Ms Rayner is understood to have used Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme to purchase her former council home in Vicarage Road, Stockport, in January 2007.

She married Mark Rayner in September 2010 and the couple re-registered the births of their two sons that year, providing Mr Rayner’s address in nearby Lowndes Lane.

But Ms Rayner is understood to have remained on the electoral roll at Vicarage Road until 2015, when she sold the house at a profit, thought to be of £48,500.

Ms Rayner has faced repeated questions from the Tories over whether she should have paid capital gains tax on the 2015 sale of her home, and whether it was her principal residence or not.

Shadow housing secretary Ms Rayner stressed she had received professional advice which was “categoric that I do not owe any capital gains tax on that”.

Knowingly providing false information on an electoral registration form is an offence, which can carry a six-month prison sentence or an unlimited fine.

The police investigation iwill allow a “line to be drawn” on the issue, Sir Keir Starmer said.

The Labour leader said: “We welcome this investigation because it will allow a line to be drawn in relation to this matter.

“I am fully confident that Angela Rayner has not broken the rules. She will cooperate with the investigation as you would expect and it is really a matter for the police.”

Meanwhile, Sir Keir and Rishi Sunak duelled over defence on Friday, with the Labour leader vowing to enhance Britain’s submarine nuclear deterrent despite facing painful constraints on public spending.

The Prime Minister responded that Labour could not be trusted on defence as he met veterans to launch a £2.1 million scheme to support them into work after they leave the military.

Sir Keir headed on Friday to Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, where the next generation of Trident nuclear submarines is being built.

“In the face of rising global threats and growing Russian aggression, Labour’s commitment to our UK nuclear deterrent is total,” Sir Keir said, three weeks after the PM himself visited BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow.