This week, Theresa May set to become Britain‘s second female prime minister. But out lesbian lawmaker, Angela Eagle has also launched her bid to head the rival party.
And if she defeats current leader Jeremy Corbyn, it would be the first time in British history that two women lead the top two political parties.
Eagle said in announcing her candidacy.
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. 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. 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.
She is known for championing women and minority rights, and campaigning for the U.K. to remain in the E.U.
Analysts describe Eagle as popular among her fellow lawmakers but lacking in the support and name recognition of her rival, Corbyn.
Eagle is from the “soft left” of the Labour Party, as opposed to Corbyn’s position on the far left.
Her challenge has angered supporters of Corbyn, who became leader after being backed by 60% of the party membership.
Eagle’s leadership challenge threatens to split the party between its MPs who have no confidence in Corbyn and party members who voted for him in 2015. A member of her local party hinted that she might also face a vote no confidence from her constituency.