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Angela Eagle: Who is the MP out to oust Jeremy Corbyn?

Angela Eagle has finally submitted papers to launch her leadership bid against Jeremy Corbyn. Credit: PA

The junior chess champion out to topple Labour's embattled king has finally made her first move - but will the Parliamentary Labour Party's white knight achieve her Jeremy Corbyn end game?

Challenger Angela Eagle has been touted to announce a run for leader for the last fortnight after she joined a wave of resigning colleagues - including her twin sister Maria - in following Hilary Benn out of the shadow cabinet.

The 55-year-old, who became parliament's first openly gay female MP, describes herself as a "good, sensible, down-to-earth woman with Northern roots" who can unite her party and the country.

Angela Eagle became the first female MP to tie the knot as she formed a civil partnership with Maria Exall in 2008. Credit: PA

The political twin is also out to challenge claims she is not leadership material as well as the view of some skeptics that she is the lesser of the two Eagles.

Political twins

The Yorkshire-born and Merseyside-raised Angela came into the world 15 minutes before her sister Maria and the pair's lives and political careers have run on parallel lines.

After a comprehensive school education, both studied PPE at Oxford, though at different colleges, before briefly diverging careers were set aside for a life in Parliament.

Sisters in Parliament, Maria (left) and Angela Eagle, celebrate their dual success in 1997. Credit: PA

Trade union worker Angela got there first, elected to the Wirral constituency of Wallasey in 1992, a full term before lawyer Maria joined her in Westminster, representing nearby Garston and Halewood as Labour swept to power in 1997.

Both served in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and made history as they become the first twins to serve in a shadow cabinet, under Ed Miliband.

Angela Eagle (second left) took her place around a shadow cabinet table with a team that also included her sister Maria. Credit: PA

Though politically more centrist in nature, the Eagles landed a role in the shadow team of the left-wing Corbyn - Angela serving as business secretary, while Maria did a short stint as shadow defence secretary before being moved to the shadow culture post.

Angela steps into limelight

The period saw Angela step into the spotlight as she won plaudits for her performance against George Osborne in PMQs, appearing confident at the dispatch box and with a down-to-earth style.

Angela insists she feels as at home in Westminster as in the Wirral.

The Eagle sisters earned significant roles in Jeremy Corbyn's shadow team despite some marked differences with the leader. Credit: PA

"I have got life experience and values," she said. "I'm a woman from the working class North; I understand metropolitan things too."

She says she understands, too, the challenge of returning Labour to power.

Even while in Corbyn's team, she described winning an election in 2020 as a "huge task" but insisted "strange things do happen in politics ... the impossible can happen”.

Obstacles in her way

Her seemingly unlikely pathway to power is made harder by the vote of no confidence she faces by members of her local party, which backs Mr Corbyn's leadership.

Angela Eagle has gained plaudits for her performances in the front bench but will she succeed in her bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn? Credit: PA

She also fell well short in her last bid for a significant role in the party with a fourth place finish among five candidates for deputy leader.

History maker

But her election as party leader and then high office would make history.

She would be the country's first openly gay prime minister after becoming the first female MP to out herself in 1998.

Eagle married her partner of 18 years, Maria Exall, a decade later to become the first female MP to tie the knot in a civil partnership.

Eagle has been happy to mention her sexuality in relation to voters, saying: "I'm a gay woman. I know the difference between hope and fear."

Political strategist

The junior chess enthusiast, who played at a national level after being taught by her father, is also an undoubted political strategist and tight-lipped.

“The chess player in me would say you don’t discuss your doubts because it gives your opponents a chance to know your weaknesses," she once said

Buoyed by a Parliamentary Labour Party intent on Corbyn's ousting, she has decided now is the time to strike.

The next few weeks will decide if her strategy to checkmate Corbyn is sound or flawed.

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