Wesley Paul William Streeting (/ˈstritɪŋ/; born 21 January 1983) is a British Labour Party politician serving as the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care since 2021, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ilford North since 2015.
He served as Shadow Secretary of State for Child Poverty from May to November 2021, as Shadow Minister for Schools from 2020 to 2021, and as Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury from April to October 2020. He was previously the President of the National Union of Students (NUS), as well as Deputy Leader of Redbridge London Borough Council and its Cabinet Member for Health.
Early life and education
Streeting was born in Stepney, London, where he grew up in a council flat. He attended Westminster City School, a comprehensive state school in Victoria, London. He went on to study history at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. Streeting served as Selwyn College's Junior Common Room (JCR) President, in which capacity he was a member of Cambridge University Students' Union (CUSU) Council. He was subsequently elected CUSU President for the 2004–5 academic year, a sabbatical officer role. As CUSU President, he campaigned against the proposed closure of Cambridge's architecture department.
National Union of Students
Streeting was elected as President of the National Union of Students (NUS) in April 2008 as a candidate from Labour Students, with the support of the Union of Jewish Students. He had been a member of the NUS National Executive Committee since 2005, having previously held the post of Vice-President (Education) from 2006 to 2008. In April 2009, he was elected to a second term as President of the NUS. He also served as a member of the National Committee of Labour Students for four years during this time. In March 2009, Pink News listed him as the 33rd-most powerful LGBT politician in the UK.
As President of the NUS, Streeting was a strong proponent of his predecessor Gemma Tumelty's proposed reforms to the NUS governance structures, which had been denounced and narrowly defeated by many left-wing groups in NUS as an attack on NUS democracy. His election was reported by The Guardian as "a move that will lend weight to the fight to modernise the union".
On 26th February 2009, The Independent reported Streeting's controversial support for tuition fees as with the headline "Wes Streeting: 'Moving to the right on Tuition Fees Makes Sense'". The article explains that the surprising move for the Student Union leader "puts [the NUS] to the right of the Liberal Democrats who have recently reaffirmed their commitment to free higher education for all".
He was a leading figure in efforts to change the NUS's position on higher education funding in advance of the government's 2009/10 independent review of higher education funding in England.
As NUS President, Streeting was a non-executive director of the NUS's trading arm, NUS Services Ltd, and of Endsleigh Insurance. He was also a non-executive director of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), as well as the Higher Education academy, having served on their board as Vice President (Education) when he was also a non-executive director of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIAHE). Shortly after his election as NUS President, Streeting was appointed as a member of the government's Youth Citizenship Commission, chaired by Professor Jonathan Tonge of Liverpool University, which published its report in June 2009.
Streeting worked for the Labour Party-related organisation Progress for a year. After completing his term as President of the NUS, Streeting served as Chief Executive of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, an educational charity that promotes access to higher education to students from further education colleges.
He went on to serve as Head of Education at Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity, where he led their Education for All campaign to tackle homophobia in schools.
He was subsequently a public sector consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which he gave up on election as a councillor, because Redbridge Council was a "current audit client" of the firm; this forced him to choose between keeping his job or forcing a second by-election. In 2010, shortly after leaving PwC, Streeting was appointed as Head of Policy and Strategic Communications for Oona King's unsuccessful bid to win the Labour Party's nomination to be its candidate in the 2012 London Mayoral election.
In a July 2010 by-election, Streeting was elected as a Labour councillor for the Chadwell ward on Redbridge London Borough Council. He held the seat for Labour by 220 votes, winning with 31.5% of the vote (a fall of 1.4% for Labour in the ward) on a 25.5% turnout (a fall of 34.5% in turnout). The by-election had been triggered by a previous elected candidate subsequently being found to be ineligible to serve on the council.
Streeting was elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Group in October 2011. In 2014, he contested the Aldborough ward on Redbridge Council, winning 2,100 votes and defeating Conservative opponent Ruth Clark.
At a public meeting of the Redbridge Citizens' Assembly on 6 May 2014, Cllr Streeting on behalf of his group promised that, if elected, he would not reduce the level of Council Tax Support provided to low-income working-age residents. Once elected, the Labour council cut the level of support, so as to treble from April 2016 the amount of Council Tax paid by supported residents; the council made a further reduction from April 2017, and made a third reduction from April 2018.
In May 2014, Labour took control of Redbridge Council for the first time and Streeting was appointed Deputy Leader of the Council. He resigned the latter in May 2015, shortly after being elected Member of Parliament for Ilford North. Whilst he remained a backbench councillor following his election to Parliament he chose not to claim his councillor allowance. Streeting did not stand for re-election after being elected to Parliament, and ceased to be a councillor on Monday 7 May 2018.
In the 2015 general election, Streeting was elected as the Member of Parliament for Ilford North. Representing the Labour Party, he overturned a Conservative majority of 5,404, winning by 589 votes.
After being elected to Parliament, Streeting was elected Honorary President of the British Youth Council. He is also a Vice President of the Local Government Association and a Patron of LGBT Labour.
Parliamentary backbencher (2015-2020)
Following his election, Streeting was described as a "long-time critic" of Jeremy Corbyn, who was leader of the Labour Party from 2015 to 2020. He accused Corbyn of a "flat-footed and lackadaisical attitude" to tackling antisemitism which is "simply unacceptable". He stated prior to the 2017 general election that he was "not going to pretend to have had a damascene conversion" with regard to Corbyn's suitability to be prime minister. His views provoked a response from Corbyn's supporters such as Ken Livingstone and the trade union leader Len McCluskey. Livingstone described him as "consciously undermining Jeremy and damaging the Labour party" while McCluskey said his reason for raising issues had been "about attacking Jeremy Corbyn". Streeting was among the 70 per cent of Labour MPs who nominated Owen Smith in the 2016 party leadership election.
Streeting campaigned against Brexit in the run up to the 2016 EU membership referendum. His constituency subsequently voted by a small-margin in favour of leaving the European Union. Afterwards, Streeting campaigned for a People's Vote, a campaign group calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union.
Ilford North has among the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in the UK. Streeting is a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism, a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews and a supporter of Labour Friends of Israel. He is also a co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims and a supporter of Labour Friends of Palestine and Middle East. In September 2018, he held the last in a series of London-wide consultations to create the Working Definition of Islamophobia. In July 2018, Streeting called for “targeted economic sanctions” against Israeli settlements in the West Bank in response to the Israeli government “grossly infringing on the human rights of Palestinians”.[
In July 2019, Streeting was reported in the media as using abusive language towards a non-Jewish antisemitism campaigner.
Shortly before the 2019 general election, Streeting told a Labour First meeting that the party faced electoral oblivion in any snap poll due to the leadership's poor handling of Brexit and allegations of antisemitism.
Following Labour's defeat in the general election, Streeting endorsed Jess Phillips in the 2020 Labour Party leadership election.
Until the 2019 general election, Streeting was a member of the Treasury Select Committee.
After the election of Keir Starmer as Leader of the Labour Party, Streeting was appointed Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.
On 16 October, Streeting was moved, being Shadow Schools Minister following the resignation of Margaret Greenwood the previous day following her opposition to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill. Abena Oppong-Asare replaced Streeting as Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.
Streeting lives in Redbridge, London. His partner is Joseph Dancey, a communications and public affairs adviser.
Streeting has strongly criticised those campaigning against LGBT+ education in schools.
In May 2021, Streeting revealed he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer and would be stepping back from frontline politics while he received treatment for it. On 27 July 2021, Streeting announced that he had been declared cancer-free, following an operation to remove one of his kidneys.