Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Angela Rayner
since 4 April 2020
Reports toLeader of the Labour Party
AppointerLabour Party
Inaugural holderJohn Robert Clynes

The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is the second highest ranking politician in the British Labour Party. The Deputy Leader also serves as the Deputy Chairperson of the Labour Party, and acts as Leader in the House in events where the leader cannot.


The Labour Leader does not have the power to appoint or dismiss their Deputy. The post is instead directly elected by party members, registered supporters and affiliated supporters on a one-member-one-vote basis; before 2015, it was elected using the party's former electoral college system; and before 1981, it was elected by Labour MPs.

Recently, the office of Deputy Prime Minister has been revived and held by senior politicians in the governing party. A previous Labour Deputy Leader, John Prescott, held this post from 1997 to 2007. However, the Deputy Leader is essentially a party official and there is no constitutional link between the two roles. The former Labour British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced on his formal election as Labour Leader that the newly elected Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, would instead become Party Chair. Brown subsequently appointed her Leader of the House of Commons in his first cabinet.

In the event of a vacancy in the office of Leader when the Labour Party is in opposition, the Deputy Leader automatically becomes temporary Leader of the Party until a new leader is elected. If a vacancy in the leadership occurs while the Labour Party is in government, then the Cabinet, in consultation with the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, chooses a new leader, who serves until a new Leader is elected.[1] Such a vacancy has occurred only twice, when Harold Wilson resigned as Leader and Prime Minister in 1976, and when Tony Blair did so in 2007, but each remained in office until, respectively, James Callaghan and Gordon Brown had been elected as successor, and so no Acting Leader was required to take over.

To date, the only Deputy Leaders who have gone on to be elected Leader of the Labour Party are Clement Attlee and Michael Foot. Margaret Beckett briefly served as Labour Leader following the unexpected death of John Smith in 1994. Harriet Harman was Leader after Gordon Brown resigned in 2010 and after Ed Miliband resigned in 2015. Conversely, John Robert Clynes served as Leader prior to becoming Deputy Leader.

List of deputy leaders of the Labour Party

Portrait Constituency Term began Term ended Concurrent office(s) Leader(s)
1 John Robert Clynes
Manchester Platting
Lost seat 1931
22 November 1922 25 October 1932 Home Secretary MacDonald
2 William Graham
(jointly with Clynes)
Edinburgh Central
Lost seat 1931
28 August 1931 8 January 1932
Died in office
President of the Board of Trade
3 Clement Attlee
Limehouse 25 October 1932 8 October 1935
Elected leader
None Lansbury
Vacant Attlee
4 Arthur Greenwood
Wakefield 26 November 1935 25 May 1945 Minister without portfolio
5 Herbert Morrison
Lewisham East then
Lewisham South
25 May 1945 14 December 1955 Deputy Prime Minister
Foreign Secretary
Leader of the House of Commons
Himself (acting)
Vacant Gaitskell
6 Jim Griffiths
Llanelli 2 February 1956 4 May 1959 None
7 Aneurin Bevan
Ebbw Vale 4 May 1959 6 July 1960
Died in office
8 George Brown
Belper 15 July 1960 18 June 1970
Lost seat 1970
Deputy Prime Minister
First Secretary of State
Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
Himself (acting)
9 Roy Jenkins
Birmingham Stechford 8 July 1970 10 April 1972 Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
10 Edward Short
Newcastle upon Tyne Central 25 April 1972 21 October 1976 Leader of the House of Commons
11 Michael Foot
Ebbw Vale 21 October 1976 10 November 1980
Elected leader
Leader of the House of Commons
12 Denis Healey
Leeds East 13 November 1980 2 October 1983 Shadow Foreign Secretary Foot
13 Roy Hattersley
(born 1932)
Birmingham Sparkbrook 2 October 1983 18 July 1992 Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Shadow Home Secretary
14 Margaret Beckett
(born 1943)
Derby South 18 July 1992 21 July 1994 Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Smith
Herself (acting)
15 John Prescott
(born 1938)
Kingston upon Hull East 21 July 1994 24 June 2007 Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
First Secretary of State
Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
16 Harriet Harman
(born 1950)
Camberwell and Peckham 24 June 2007 12 September 2015 Leader of the House of Commons
Lord Privy Seal
Minister for Women and Equalities
Labour Party Chair
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Shadow Deputy Prime Minister
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Leader of the Opposition
Herself (acting)
Herself (acting)
17 Tom Watson
(born 1967)
West Bromwich East 12 September 2015 12 December 2019 Shadow minister for the Cabinet Office
Chair of the Labour Party
Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
18 Angela Rayner
(born 1980)
Ashton-under-Lyne 4 April 2020 Incumbent Chair of the Labour Party (until 8 May 2021)
Shadow First Secretary of State
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

See also


  1. ^ Labour Party Rule Book 2013, Chapter 4, clause II.2.E.i and iv.