Angela Rayner won rave reviews for her performance at Prime Minister’s Questions this week – and she declares she wants the top job one day.
“I always try and do my best in everything I do because it’s about improving the lives of people,” she said.
“I don’t see that as a game.
“ Boris Johnson always wanted to be Prime Minister, and I’m like, ‘What do you want to be Prime Minister for, Boris Johnson? Is it for your own ego?’
“Cos I want to be in No10, I want to be around government, because I want to change the lives for people that I admire, who work hard everyday, who have lots of challenges – and I don’t want to ever let them down.”
With Mr Johnson in the US for the United Nations General Assembly and meetings with President Joe Biden, PMQs was the battle of the deputies this week.
Ms Rayner – wearing a £179 Ted Baker dress she bought from eBay for £60 – stole the show with her witty, cutting barbs at opposite number Dominic Raab as the pair duelled across the Commons Despatch Box.
“It was great, I loved it, it felt like I was back socking it to the Tories,” said Ms Rayner.
Some commentators compared her barnstorming performance with Keir Starmer ’s more muted – many say dull – approach to the weekly parliamentary showdown.
“Keir has a different style – it doesn’t mean he doesn’t come from the same place,” said his deputy.
“Keir is very methodical and forensic in the way he does things, and actually some people really like that and some people are really turned off by my style and think, ‘If only she would stop ranting’.”
She insisted “Keir’s values are the same values – he’s just as angry”.
But she added: “No one can say I am trying to emulate Keir and certainly no one will say that Keir is trying to emulate me.”
Asked if she wanted to be leader one day, she said: “I’ve seen what we do to our leaders – it petrifies me!
“We are so brutal, even within our own movement we can be pretty brutal to our leaders.
“I just want to make a difference.”
She laid bare the frustrations of spending her six years in the Commons in opposition.
Video: Boris Johnson admits set-back in securing a US trade deal (PA Media)
“The thing I regret most about being in Parliament since I’ve been elected and had the privilege of representing my constituency is I’ve been voted down so many times because we’re not in government,” she said.
“I can do a good round at PMQs but that’s not going to change things for working people of this country.
“What I need to do is get us into government. If I can get my little hands on getting into government in any way, stretch or form I can, I’ll do it.”
Ms Rayner revels in her role as the confident, bold and brash face and voice of Labour on the airwaves.
But she admitted she gets “frightened” touring the TV and radio studios.
“It frightens me to put myself forward all the time in the way that I do as an individual because it’s a lot of pressure, but I also think it’s important that I’m not there to represent me, I’m there to represent the people that elected me,” she said.
“You don’t want to let people down, when you put yourself forward on the national stage like that.”
She dismissed the brewing internal row over Labour elects future leaders as “argy bargy”.
Keir Starmer wants to tear up the current one member, one vote system and replace it with an electoral college.
That regime was axed in 2014 to give grassroots activists the power to pick the party premier.
But Mr Starmer wants to return to the system that gives MPs a third of the vote, the unions a third and ordinary Labour members a third.
Ms Rayner said: “It wouldn’t be a conference if we didn’t have some form of argy bargy.
“I’ve never been to a Labour Party or a trade union conference where there isn’t an argy bargy on something.
“But I do think we should have a respectful debate.”
But the former union official refused to be drawn on the row.
Asked if she supported the proposed overhaul, she said: “We will see what happens.”
She added: “Keir’s said he wants to look at that, he’s said he wants to discuss it and consult, and he’s doing that, and I think that’s fine.
“What I don’t want it to be is a big, internal fight within the Labour Party – I think that’s very disastrous for us because divided parties don’t win elections.”
She feared a row would derail Labour’s chance to showcase policies in Brighton.
“I would hate to think that people’s messages out of conference (are) ‘the Labour Party are not focusing outwards’ – and I know that Keir shares that vision,” said Ms Rayner.
“But you have to fix your internal as well as your external.”
She added: “We make no apologies for reviewing all of the issues that we face internally, as well as focusing on the country, because we have to be ready to govern.
“Me and Keir are very clear on that.”Internet Explorer Channel Network