Getty
Show Hide image

9 reasons you should be truly terrified of Andrea Leadsom becoming Prime Minister

We’ve trawled through the Tory leadership candidate’s blog so you don’t have to.

With polls suggesting Andrea Leadsom will be one of the two Tory leadership candidates put to a vote of the members, it’s only natural to be curious about what this potential prime minister believes.

Luckily, she's been busily keeping a blog for the last decade.

It turns out she has strong views on babies' brains, and thinks she may have discovered the secret to preventing a repeat of the riots which plagued London in 2011.

Intriguingly, for a Leave campaigner who has talked down financial panic in recent weeks, she also thinks losing UK's AAA credit rating is a Very Bad Idea. 

Here are some of the more controversial and divisive positions she has taken:

1. Gay couples to the back of the adoption queue

Back in 2009, Leadsom used an adoption case – in which the two children of a heroin addict were given to a GAY couple (!?!?) – to question just when enough is enough when it comes to gay rights. “And if that weren’t enough, the two strangers are a gay couple, who have been selected ahead of several heterosexual couples.”

2. Watch out for those single parents

In 2006, she wrote that "the child of a single parent family is 70 per cent more likely (than the child of a two-parent family) to have problems at school, and even to become a drug addict or a criminal.”

Tough luck for all you children of single parents out there.

3. And that anti-marriage media

“The self indulgence and carelessness of non-committed adult relationships is proving fatal to the next generation,” she wrote in 2008. 

Not married? Prepare for a life of DANGER.

4. Losing a triple-A credit rating is bad news after all

“If a downgrade happens, it is a huge blow for our economy, and will potentially set us back several years on repaying our debts, and returning our finances to health,” Leadsom wrote in 2009. 

Since the vote for Brexit, both S&P’s and Moody’s have downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AAA to AA-. Shouldn’t someone have reminded her of this 2009 blog post during the referendum campaign?

5. Those baby-brained rioters

"I explained how secure attachment or parental love literally hard wires the baby's brain," Leadsom wrote in 2012. 

Leadsom has long campaigned around parental attachment, and reportedly spent several minutes talking about babies' brains at the first Tory leadership hustings, to the bemusement of fellow MPs.

6. No money for wind farms

“I completely welcome the announcement from the European Commission made recently regarding the possibility of ending all subsidies for winds farms,” she wrote in 2014.

Leadsom became energy minister the year after this comment. The renewables industry employs more than 250,000 people in the UK, as well as helping to build a sustainable energy policy, but clearly it's still a waste of money.

7. Who needs a special relationship? 

“He [Obama] shouldn’t be sticking his oar into an issue that isn’t his concern,” Leadsom wrote after the US president warned that Britain would be "at the back of the queue" in trade negotiations if it left the EU.

Let’s hope she develops a more favourable relationship with any future US President.

8. Those US Presidents getting invites before us

“How can France be hosting the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings with Sarkozy and Obama (neither of them a twinkle in their father's eye in 1945) in attendance, and yet the Queen of Britain, Canada, and Australia (who was not only alive, but who also served in the war) was not invited until two weeks ago?”

9. She likes bankers getting bonuses

“I should think the Finance Ministers of France, Germany and Switzerland (to name but three!) will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of London’s financial services pre-eminence being scuppered in one move... Big populist gestures like this one now proposed by the Chancellor will not solve the problem.”

We must not do anything to antagonise bankers! Of course, a Brexit that leaves the UK's financial services industry in jeopardy is quite another matter

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Forget planning for no deal. The government isn't really planning for Brexit at all

The British government is simply not in a position to handle life after the EU.

No deal is better than a bad deal? That phrase has essentially vanished from Theresa May’s lips since the loss of her parliamentary majority in June, but it lives on in the minds of her boosters in the commentariat and the most committed parts of the Brexit press. In fact, they have a new meme: criticising the civil service and ministers who backed a Remain vote for “not preparing” for a no deal Brexit.

Leaving without a deal would mean, among other things, dropping out of the Open Skies agreement which allows British aeroplanes to fly to the United States and European Union. It would lead very quickly to food shortages and also mean that radioactive isotopes, used among other things for cancer treatment, wouldn’t be able to cross into the UK anymore. “Planning for no deal” actually means “making a deal”.  (Where the Brexit elite may have a point is that the consequences of no deal are sufficiently disruptive on both sides that the British government shouldn’t  worry too much about the two-year time frame set out in Article 50, as both sides have too big an incentive to always agree to extra time. I don’t think this is likely for political reasons but there is a good economic case for it.)

For the most part, you can’t really plan for no deal. There are however some things the government could prepare for. They could, for instance, start hiring additional staff for customs checks and investing in a bigger IT system to be able to handle the increased volume of work that would need to take place at the British border. It would need to begin issuing compulsory purchases to build new customs posts at ports, particularly along the 300-mile stretch of the Irish border – where Northern Ireland, outside the European Union, would immediately have a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, which would remain inside the bloc. But as Newsnight’s Christopher Cook details, the government is doing none of these things.

Now, in a way, you might say that this is a good decision on the government’s part. Frankly, these measures would only be about as useful as doing your seatbelt up before driving off the Grand Canyon. Buying up land and properties along the Irish border has the potential to cause political headaches that neither the British nor Irish governments need. However, as Cook notes, much of the government’s negotiating strategy seems to be based around convincing the EU27 that the United Kingdom might actually walk away without a deal, so not making even these inadequate plans makes a mockery of their own strategy. 

But the frothing about preparing for “no deal” ignores a far bigger problem: the government isn’t really preparing for any deal, and certainly not the one envisaged in May’s Lancaster House speech, where she set out the terms of Britain’s Brexit negotiations, or in her letter to the EU27 triggering Article 50. Just to reiterate: the government’s proposal is that the United Kingdom will leave both the single market and the customs union. Its regulations will no longer be set or enforced by the European Court of Justice or related bodies.

That means that, when Britain leaves the EU, it will need, at a minimum: to beef up the number of staff, the quality of its computer systems and the amount of physical space given over to customs checks and other assorted border work. It will need to hire its own food and standards inspectors to travel the globe checking the quality of products exported to the United Kingdom. It will need to increase the size of its own regulatory bodies.

The Foreign Office is doing some good and important work on preparing Britain’s re-entry into the World Trade Organisation as a nation with its own set of tariffs. But across the government, the level of preparation is simply not where it should be.

And all that’s assuming that May gets exactly what she wants. It’s not that the government isn’t preparing for no deal, or isn’t preparing for a bad deal. It can’t even be said to be preparing for what it believes is a great deal. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.