Written by 21:11 World

Who Is Rachel Reeves, the Woman Taking the Helm of the U.K.’s Economy?

Rachel Reeves became Britain’s first female chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday, taking on one of the country’s four great offices of state, with responsibility for managing Britain’s budget.

After a decade and a half of economic stagnation, Ms. Reeves, a Labour lawmaker with a reputation as a serious and steady manager, faces the tough jobs of boosting Britain’s productivity growth, a key measure of prosperity, and of reviving struggling public services.

“I know the scale of the challenge that I’m likely to inherit,” Ms. Reeves told the BBC early Friday. “There’s not a huge amount of money there,” she said, adding that the party needed to unlock private investment.

Ms. Reeves is expected to approach her new role with deliberation.

“Labour has come a long way to regain the trust of people on their economic record and she doesn’t want to risk that,” Carys Roberts, the director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said.

For example, Labour has moved to more centrist policies in recent years, following former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing program of higher spending and widespread nationalization of industries.

Ms. Reeves, 45, was elected to Parliament in 2010 in the northern city of Leeds. In a bid to prove her credibility, she has frequently referred to her traditional training as an economist during six years working at the Bank of England after college.

She has emphasized her goal of creating stability after a period of international and homegrown economic shocks, including a surge in energy prices and the premiership of Liz Truss, who lasted only 49 days in office after her tax cut proposals roiled financial markets.

Ms. Reeves calls her economic agenda “securonomics,” a dull-sounding portmanteau that reflects her already earnest reputation. She once told The Guardian that if you want “cartwheels” to turn to someone else.

She has described “securonomics” as ensuring Britain’s economic security in a world that is fragmenting, while also ensuring the security of working people’s finances. It is inspired by the policies of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

But the call for stability is also a sign that Britons shouldn’t expect quick or drastic changes in the handling of the economy.

Amid high debt levels and relatively high taxes, Ms. Reeves has vowed not to raise corporate, personal income or V.A.T. taxes and to adhere to strict debt rules. Given these restraints, she hopes that stability will induce much-needed economic growth.

In practice, that is expected to mean giving more power to institutions, like the fiscal watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility, and working more closely with businesses to encourage them to ramp up private investment.

“Labour are pinning a lot on the hope of economic growth, including relying on growth to enable them to spend more on services,” Ms. Roberts said.


Last modified: 7 July 2024