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7 July 2016

Who is Andrea Leadsom? The lowdown on the Tory leadership finalist

Andrea Leadsom was a star of the Leave campaign, but can she trounce Theresa May?

By New Statesman

During the EU referendum, Andrea Leadsom was one of the more palatable faces of the Leave campaign. But compared to Theresa May, will she show up as style rather than substance? 

Who? The Tonbridge grammar school girl-turned-Tory A Lister is one of the lesser-known candidates in the contest. Leaving her highflying banking career, the 53-year-old Leadsom was elected in 2010 to represent South Northamptonshire, and first made a name for herself on the Treasury Select Committee, riling the Chancellor up particularly during the Libor scandal. Eventually, she was brought into the tent as Economic Secretary to the Treasury for a year from 2014, and then promoted to Energy Secretary last year.

Support base: During the EU referendum, Leadsom became the darling of the Brexiteers, representing the Leave campaign in numerous polished media performances . She has therefore attracted the support of big Brexit beasts like Iain Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson, Penny Mordaunt, Owen Paterson and Bernard Jenkin. The Ukip donor Arron Banks has even suggested he could fund Leadsom’s campaign. 

Pros: She is the only viable Brexiteer candidate without the blood of her political allies on her hands. Indeed, so comforting is her reputation among supporters that she has earned the shudderingly Tory, and sexist, nickname “Mummy”. This is also due to her obsession with mentioning her “children and grandchildren” in the EU television debates.

Cons: She doesn’t have great name recognition, and is being hammered for her tax arrangements, which have come under intense scrutiny. She also has a rather terrifying host of rightwing views. When appointed Energy Secretary, she asked whether climate change was real, and she has defended bankers’ bonuses and argued against maternity pay and minimum wage at small businesses. Like Crabb, a committed Christian, she did not vote for gay marriage.

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Pitch to the party: Her pitch, according to Tory sources, is: “Three b’s – Brussels, banks and babies”.

Quotable quote: “The person who leads the country has to be someone who believes in the opportunities in leaving the EU.”