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HomeWorldRachel Reeves, 45, Becomes First Woman UK Finance Minister

Rachel Reeves, 45, Becomes First Woman UK Finance Minister

Rachel Reeves, Britain’s first woman finance minister, is a former child chess champion and Bank of England economist who has pledged to grow the nation’s economy while maintaining strong fiscal discipline. At 45, she becomes chancellor of the exchequer after her centre-left Labour party won the UK general election by a landslide, ending 14 years of Conservative rule.

“It is the honour of my life to have been appointed chancellor of the exchequer,” Reeves wrote on social media platform X after her appointment by new Prime Minister Keir Starmer. “To every young girl and woman reading this, let today show that there should be no limits on your ambitions.”

Labour emphasized the economy in its election manifesto, focusing on growth and wealth creation, which is a shift from its traditionally leftist policies.

“Economic growth was the Labour Party’s mission,” Reeves said. “It is now a national mission. Let’s get to work,” said the married mother of two.

Reeves recently told company bosses that Labour had become “the natural party of British business” and pledged “iron discipline” over public finances, drawing comparisons to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, known as the ‘Iron Lady.’

Unlike Thatcher, who privatised key sectors, Reeves plans a form of renationalisation, especially for energy, inspired by policies of US President Joe Biden. Labour has pledged to create Great British Energy, a publicly owned company to lead the “green” transition away from fossil fuels.

James Wood, a senior teaching associate in political economy at the University of Cambridge, noted that Labour and Reeves aim for a “responsible” approach to public finances, emphasizing balancing the books and responsibly managing the economy.

Reeves’ stance contrasts sharply with former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s 2022 mini-budget, which led to a financial crisis. Reeves aims to avoid fiscal irresponsibility and not make unfeasible spending promises.

Reeves, whose parents were teachers, is skilled at outmaneuvering opponents. She became the British girls’ chess champion at 14, studied philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of Oxford, and earned a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics. She then worked as an economist for a decade, including at the Bank of England and later in the private sector. During the 2008 financial crisis, she worked for British retail bank HBOS, which received a significant bailout from Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

In 2010, Reeves was elected Labour MP for Leeds West, and in 2021, Starmer appointed her as Labour’s finance spokesperson. Her sister, Ellie Reeves, is also a Labour MP.

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