Maria Eagle

Maria Eagle
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
5 January 2016  27 June 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded by Michael Dugher
Succeeded by Kelvin Hopkins
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
14 September 2015  5 January 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded by Vernon Coaker
Succeeded by Emily Thornberry
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
7 October 2013  14 September 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded by Mary Creagh
Succeeded by Kerry McCarthy
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
8 October 2010  7 October 2013
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Sadiq Khan
Succeeded by Mary Creagh
Shadow Solicitor General
In office
11 May 2010  8 October 2010
Leader Harriet Harman (Acting)
Ed Miliband
Preceded by Jonathan Djanogly
Succeeded by Catherine McKinnell
Minister for Children
In office
17 June 2005  8 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Margaret Hodge
Succeeded by Beverley Hughes
Under Secretary of State for Disabled People
In office
11 June 2001  17 June 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Margaret Hodge
Succeeded by Anne McGuire
Member of Parliament
for Garston and Halewood
Liverpool Garston (1997–2010)
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Eddie Loyden
Majority 32,149 (60.0%)
Personal details
Born (1961-02-17) 17 February 1961
Bridlington, England
Political party Labour
Alma mater Pembroke College, Oxford
University of Law

Maria Eagle MP (born 17 February 1961) is a British Labour Party politician, Member of Parliament for Garston and Halewood[1][2] and former Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

She has held the rank of Minister of State at the Government Equalities Office and at the Ministry of Justice. She had been a Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education and Skills, and the Northern Ireland Office. After the 2010 general election she became the Shadow Solicitor General.[3] On 8 October 2010, Eagle was announced as the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet, and on 7 October 2013, appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

On 14 September 2015, Eagle was confirmed as the Shadow Defence Secretary in Jeremy Corbyn's first Shadow Cabinet.[4] She was moved to the position of Shadow Culture Secretary in January 2016 and resigned from the Shadow Cabinet on 27 June 2016. Eagle is the twin sister of fellow Labour MP Angela Eagle.

Early life

Eagle was born in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire,[5] the daughter of Shirley (Kirk), a factory worker, and André Eagle, a print worker.[6][7] She was educated at St Peter's Church of England School in Formby and Formby High School before attending Pembroke College, Oxford, where she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1983.[8]

She worked in the voluntary sector from 1983 to 1990, and then went to the College of Law, London, where she took her law finals in 1990, before she joined Brian Thompson & Partners in Liverpool as an articled clerk in 1990. In 1992 she became a solicitor with Goldsmith Williams in Liverpool, and later a Solicitor at Stephen Irving & Co also in Liverpool, where she remained until her election to Westminster.[8]

Political life

After joining the Labour Party, Eagle was elected the secretary of the Crosby Constituency Labour Party (CLP) for two years in 1983,[9] and was also elected as the campaigns organiser with that CLP for three years in 1993.[9] She contested the Crosby seat at the 1992 general election[9] where she lost to the sitting Conservative MP Malcolm Thornton by 14,806 votes.[10]

For the following election in 1997 Eagle was selected through an all-women shortlist to stand for Labour in Garston, Merseyside.[11][12] She was elected to the House of Commons with a majority of 18,417 and remains an MP, now for Garston & Halewood, following boundary changes in 2010.[9] She joined her sister Angela in Parliament, and are the only pair of sisters in the Commons.[N 1]

She made her maiden speech on 17 June 1997.[15]

Parliamentary career

In parliament Eagle was a member of the Public Accounts Committee following her initial election,[9] and in 1999 she was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State at the Department of Health, John Hutton.[9] She was promoted to the Tony Blair government following the 2001 general election as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions,[9] and after the 2005 general election, she was the Minister for Children at the Department for Education and Skills,[9] until the May 2006 reshuffle moved her to Northern Ireland,[9] where she was Minister for more than one department at a time, including a period at the Department for Employment and Learning, on 29 June 2007 she moved to the Ministry of Justice. As part of the reshuffle of Gordon Brown's government in October 2008, she assumed additional responsibility for the Government Equalities Office.[9] In the June 2009 reshuffle she was promoted to Minister of State within the justice department.[9]

Her proposed ban on mink fur farming was defeated as a Private Member's Bill but subsequently picked up by the government and enacted as the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000.[16]

After Labour lost the 2010 general election she served in interim Labour leader Harriet Harman's front bench as Shadow Solicitor General[17] and Shadow Justice Minister.[9] In October 2010 Eagle was elected to the Shadow Cabinet of new Labour Party leader Ed Miliband as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in the Labour Party Shadow Cabinet election.[18]

Eagle was nominated for the Stonewall Politician of the Year Award in 2008 for her work to support equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.[19] She was given a score of 93% in favour of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality by Stonewall.[20] On 5 February 2013 Eagle voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain.[21]

Eagle was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Defence in September 2015 by the newly elected Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.[22] Eagle said she was surprised by her appointment as she disagrees with Corbyn's advocacy of unilateral nuclear disarmament and supports of the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.[13] Tasked with leading Labour's defence review, she said that she would not rule out the possibility that it might recommend unilateral disarmament,[13] but described Corbyn's comments that he would not countenance using a nuclear deterrent as "unhelpful" to the policy process.[23] In January 2016, she was moved to the position of Shadow Culture Secretary.[24] She resigned from the shadow cabinet on 27 June 2016 in the mass resignation of the Shadow Cabinet following the Brexit referendum.[25]

Expenses controversy

On 17 May 2009 The Daily Telegraph revealed that Eagle had claimed £3,500 for the refurbishment of the bathroom of her Liverpool home property, then switched her second home designation to a different property four months later. Eagle voted in favour of legislation which would have kept MPs' expenses information secret.[26]

Personal life

Maria describes herself as "the straight one". Her twin sister Angela is a lesbian.[27]


  1. They are sometimes incorrectly described as the first set of twins to sit in the Commons at the same time;[13] in fact the first set of twins is believed to have been James and Richard Grenville, who sat together for Buckingham between 1774 and 1780.[14]


  1. Election results for Garston & Halewood Constituency, 8 June 2017 - Liverpool City Council
  2. Garston & Halewood parliamentary constituency - Election 2017 - BBC News
  3. Opposition Front Bench Archived 5 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Labour Party
  4. "Jeremy Corbyn announces new Shadow Cabinet appointments". Labour Press. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  5. "The Biography of Angela Eagle". Angela Eagle. 2008. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  6. "Biography".
  7. McDougall, L.; McDougall, Linda (31 January 2012). "Westminster Women". Random House via Google Books.
  8. 1 2 Dod's Parliamentary Companion. Vacher Dod Publishing. 2005. p. 153.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Biography – Maria Eagle UK Parliament
  10. "UK General election results April 9th 1992 [Archive]". Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  11. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2009.
  12. Rentoul, John; Ward, Stephen; MacIntyre, Donald (9 January 1996). "Labour blow as all-women lists outlawed". The Independent. London.
  13. 1 2 3 Eaton, George (14 October 2015). "Maria Eagle on nuclear disarmament: "I'm not ruling it out"". New Statesman. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  14. Farrell, Stephen. "Twins in Parliament: the Grenvilles and Buckingham Borough, 1774". The History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  15. Hansard Debates for 17 June 1997 UK Parliament
  16. "Maria Eagle: Political Profile". BBC. 21 October 2002. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  17. Thornberry among new Labour front benchers, 28 May 2010
  18. Cooper tops shadow cabinet vote BBC News, 7 October 2010
  19. Shaw, Milly (23 September 2008). "Stonewall Awards shortlist announced". Lesbilicious. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  20. "Stonewall MP Voting Records 2010 (Voting on key gay equality issues in Parliament, 2005 to date" (PDF). p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 September 2010. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  21. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 05 Feb 2013 (pt 0004)". 5 Feb 2013 : Column 231. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  22. "Jeremy Corbyn shadow Cabinet live: Labour leader under fire after ignoring women for top jobs". 14 Sept. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  23. Dathan, Matt (30 September 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's ability to become Prime Minister questioned by shadow defence secretary". Independent. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  24. Mason, Rowena; Perraudin, Frances (6 January 2016). "Labour reshuffle: Thornberry replaces Eagle for defence, McFadden sacked and Benn stays". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  25. Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  26. Sawer, Patrick (17 May 2009). "Maria Eagle: bathroom renovated on expenses before flat was 'flipped'". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  27. "Interview: Maria Eagle defends homophobic incitement law".


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Loyden
Member of Parliament
for Liverpool Garston

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Garston and Halewood

Political offices
Preceded by
Margaret Hodge
Undersecretary of State for Disabled People
Succeeded by
Anne McGuire
Undersecretary of State for Children and Families
Succeeded by
Beverley Hughes
Preceded by
Jonathan Djanogly
Shadow Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Catherine McKinnell
Preceded by
Sadiq Khan
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Mary Creagh
Preceded by
Mary Creagh
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Succeeded by
Kerry McCarthy
Preceded by
Vernon Coaker
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Emily Thornberry
Preceded by
Michael Dugher
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Kelvin Hopkins
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