Andrea Leadsom has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race, saying ‘the best interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well-supported Prime Minister’ and that she did not have sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government.
She said Theresa May was ‘ideally placed’ to implement Brexit and that she would withdraw immediately so that the new Prime Minister could be appointed immediately.
Leadsom did not mention the torrid weekend that she has had, in which she sustained heavy criticism for her comments about having children giving her a ‘direct stake’. But even her supporters had come away from the past few days concluding that she was naive and on a steep learning curve. Many of them thought that before then.
Now, 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady will give a statement at 12.30 in which he will set out what happens next. Theresa May had feared that a coronation would be more difficult given she is a Remainer, but few in Westminster (save those who enjoy covering leadership contests) will be disappointed that we may be about to get a government that’s actually focused on getting things done and responding to the referendum result.
Here’s what Andrea Leadsom had to say when she stepped down today:
This morning I have written a letter to Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee and I would like to read it out to you.
The best interests of our country inspired me to stand for the leadership. I believe that in leaving the EU, a bright future awaits where all our people can share in a new prosperity and freedom and democracy. The referendum result demonstrated a clear desire for change. Strong leadership is needed urgently to begin the work of withdrawing from the EU. A nine-week leadership campaign at such a critical moment for our country is highly undesirable. Business needs certainty. A strong and unified government must move quickly to set out what an independent UK’s framework for business looks like. It is also essential that current EU workers in the UK and the businesses that employ them, know where they stand. The Conservative party was elected only last year with a strong manifesto. We now need a new prime minister in place as soon as possible, committed to fulfilling that manifesto as well as implementing the clear instructions from that manifesto. Theresa May carries over 60 per cent of support from the parliamentary party. She is ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the briti9sh people and she has promised she will do so.
For me personally, to have won the support of 84 of my colleagues last Thursday was a great expression of confidence for which I am incredibly grateful. Nevertheless, this is less than 25 per cent of the parliamentary party and after careful consideration, I don not believe this is sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government should I win the leadership election. There is no greater privileges than to lead the conservative party in Government. I would have been deeply honoured to do it. I have however concluded that the interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well supported prime minister, I am therefore withdrawing from the leadership election and I wish Theresa may the very greatest success. I assure her of my full support.