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Eagle's rise as champion of the 'soft left' in party

By Pat Hurst

Published 11/07/2016

Angela Eagle is a relative unknown to the public whose steady rise in Labour politics has seen her now plan to launch a leadership challenge to topple the party membership's chosen leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The former NIO minister was the first openly gay female MP when she came out in 1997, Ms Eagle was one of the youngest MPs in parliament when she was first elected in 1992 as MP for Wallasey at the age of 31, and is also a former child chess champion.

She embodies modern Labour values as a gay woman with working class roots, the Yorkshire-born, comprehensive school-educated daughter of a printer who went to Oxford and now represents a Merseyside constituency.

A champion of women's rights, diversity and the rights of minorities, Ms Eagle is seen as being from the "soft left" of the party.

She has a twin sister, Maria, and is the eldest by 15 minutes. They are the first set of twins to be elected as MPs and later became the first twins serving as ministers.

Famously, David Cameron was roundly rebuked for telling her to "calm down, dear" after she challenged the Prime Minister over NHS reforms.

Ms Eagle is seen as more pro-business than many on the left.

She has a partner, Maria Exall, a trade union activist, and they had a civil partnership in 2008.

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