Rachel Jane Reeves (born 13 February 1979) is a British economist and a Labour Party politician. She has been the Member of Parliament for Leeds Westsince 2010. Reeves is also the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Reeves was born to Graham and Sally Reeves in Lewisham, London. She was educated at Cator Park School for Girls in Bromley. At school, Reeves was the UK Under-14 girls Chess champion.
At college, Reeves completed 4 A-Levels in Politics, Economics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics. She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at New College, Oxford, followed by an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.
Reeves cites the influence of her father on herself and her sister in supporting the Labour Party. She recalls how when she was eight years-old he pointed out former Labour leader Neil Kinnock on the television and "told us that was who we voted for". Reeves says both she and her sister had "both known we were Labour since then". She joined the Labour Party at age 16.
She stood as the Labour Party parliamentary candidate in the Conservative safe seat Bromley and Chislehurst in the 2005 general election, finishing second. She again contested the 2006 by-election for the same seat following the death of sitting MP Eric Forth and finished fourth. Labour support reduced from 10,241 votes to 1,925 in what was described as a "humiliation" for Labour. The result was the worst performance for a governing party since 1991.
Reeves moved to Leeds in 2006 to work for HBOS. She was once interviewed for a job at Goldman Sachs but turned it down. She said the job could have made her "a lot richer". She later sought nomination for the Leeds West seat at the 2010 General Election. to replace John Battle, who had chosen to retire. She was selected by the Labour Party to contest the seat from an all-women shortlist of prospective Labour candidates.
Following similar titles of publications by Roy Jenkins in 1959 and Tony Wright in 1997, Reeves wrote the new edition of Why Vote Labour? in preparation for the 2010 election, as part of a series giving the case for each of the main political parties.Reeves speaking in 2012
Reeves was elected with a majority of 7,016 on 6 May 2010, a 5,794 reduction in majority compared to her predecessor, becoming only the second woman to represent a Leeds constituency. Reeves is currently writing the biography of Alice Bacon, who was the first female MP to represent the city (from 1945 to 1970).
In her maiden speech, delivered on 8 June 2010, Reeves praised the work of her predecessor, John Battle and pledged to fight for jobs, growth and prosperity for Leeds West. Reeves also pledged to follow in Battle's footsteps and fight for justice for the victims of the Armley asbestos disaster and their families. In a series of questions in Parliament, Reeves enquired whether the government would honour promises by the previous government to compensate victims of asbestos diagnosed with pleural plaques and bring legislation into force making it easier to pursue claims against insurers.
After the 2010 election she supported Ed Miliband for the Labour leadership, because she felt he was the candidate most willing to listen to what the voters were saying about where the party went wrong. Since becoming an MP, Reeves was elected to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee and was appointed Shadow Pensions Minister in October 2010. In her role as Shadow Pensions Minister she campaigned against the Government's proposed acceleration of equalising state pensions ages for men and women. She was promoted to the post of Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in October 2011.
Reeves has been named by The Guardian newspaper as being one of several MPs who employ unpaid interns, a practice that some maintain may breach theNational Minimum Wage Act 1998. The Independent newspaper has named Reeves as a member of a group of new Labour MPs known as the "Nando'sFive". The other members are Chuka Umunna MP, Luciana Berger MP, Jonathan Reynolds MP and Emma Reynolds MP.
Reeves has written on the financial crisis of 2007–2010 for the Fabian Review, Institute of Public Policy Research, Socialist Environment and Resources Association, and the European Journal of Political Economy. Following her election as MP, Reeves wrote about the direction of UK government fiscal policy in Renewal, the Journal of Social Democracy. In an article entitled "The Politics of Deficit Reduction", Reeves offers her critique of the current financial situation and efforts to bring down the budget deficit.
Reeves is a supporter of the High Speed Rail campaign, raising the issue in Parliament, as well as campaigning for the proposed Kirkstall Forge railway station. She is also involved in the campaign to save the historic Bramley Baths and the campaign to save the children's heart unit at the Leeds General Infirmary.
Reeves is married to Nicholas Joicey, director of the international department of HM Treasury. and a former private secretary and speech writer to Gordon Brown. She lives in Bramley, Leeds, and London.
Reeves' younger sister, Ellie, is a member of Labour's National Executive Committee and Joint Policy Committee, and is married to John Cryer, another Labour MP. Reeves announced her first pregnancy on 20 September 2012.
Reeves spends her free time swimming, reading and walking. Reeves is a patron of Bramley Elderly Action and a trustee of Leeds Healthy Living Network. She was previously on the board of BARCA - Leeds and a governor of Swallow Hill Community College, and Kirkstall Valley Primary School.