Who run the world? In the United Kingdom, it could be two women, if an out lesbian lawmaker successfully unseats a man as leader of the Labour Party.
This Wednesday, Theresa May of the leading Tory party is set to become Britain‘s second female prime minister, and today Angela Eagle launched her bid to head the rival party. If she defeats left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, it would be the first time in British history that two women lead the top two political parties.
“I am a person who brings people together, I don’t drive them apart. I will unite, I will not divide. I can bring our party together again,” Eagle said in announcing her candidacy. “A kinder politics must be a reality, not just an empty slogan. The Tories may play out their game of thrones. But they have nothing to offer on the questions this country now faces.” She added, “I love my party and I love my country. We are at a crossroads. I am ready to lead.”
Eagle, 55, was first elected to represent her town of Wallasey in Merseyside in 1992, came out in 1997 as only the second openly lesbian minister of parliament and has served in several governments. She has a twin sister, Maria. They became the first twin sisters to sit on the government front bench in parliamentary history.
Her politics are liberal: she supports same-sex marriage, banning of fox hunting and assisted suicide for those with terminal illnesses. Eagle voted against cuts to welfare, but did support the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war, supported air strikes in Syria, and the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Analysts describe Eagle as popular among her fellow lawmakers but lacking in the support and name recognition of her rival, Corbyn. But when more than 170 ministers voted no-confidence in him, Eagle saw an opportunity. However, some analysts are decrying her push for leadership as sparking civil war within the party.