Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. The Staggers
3 October 2016

3 of the most baffling moments in Andrea Leadsom’s speech

Theresa May's closest rival for the top job is now a Cabinet minister.

By Julia Rampen

“I cannot believe that Andrea Leadsom was nearly our Prime Minister,” said the Liberal Democrat’s environment spokeswoman Kate Parminter after the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs made her speech at the Conservative party conference. Parminter was affronted that Leadsom did not address the news that supermarket meat was infected with MRSA. 

But there were quite a few other moments when The Staggers felt strangely thankful towards Theresa May:

1. The shout out to £80 bottled air

None can fault Leadsom’s love for her country, but her pick of rural exports raised some eyebrows:

Our stunning landscapes are famous right across the globe.  They’ve inspired paintings, poems and pop songs.

They attract millions of visitors, underpinning a rural tourism industry that is worth more than £30 billion a year.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

I hear that tourists are even buying bottled English countryside air for up to £80 a go

Content from our partners
How automation can help telecoms companies unlock their growth potential
The pandemic has had a scarring effect on loneliness, but we can do better
Feel confident gifting tech to your children this Christmas

There is indeed a business selling air to China, although we hope that our Brexit trade strategy is based on something more solid.

2. The Pokemon Go joke

Leadsom wants to get in with the rural hipsters, judging by her choice of jokes:

We’re both determined to improve mobile phone coverage and to roll out superfast broadband.

I know so well how frustrating it is to search the house just for a single bar of signal when you’re trying to send a text.
Or worse still, if you can’t get on to your Pokemon Go account. 

3. The impossible exports

Leadsom wanted the world to know we were open for business:

At the beginning of this year we launched our Great British Food Unit to promote our food and drink worldwide.

We’re selling coffee to Brazil, sparkling wine to France and naan bread to India.

No doubt the Brazilians, French and Indians are having a good laugh too at how Brits snap up their Rio Marmite, French cheddar and Indian whisky…