ALLIES of Theresa May have questioned Andrea Leadsom’s suitability to be prime minister after the Tory leadership candidate appeared to suggest that being a mother gave her an advantage over her childless rival.
Mrs Leadsom said she was ‘disgusted’ by the way her comments had been presented and insisted that she believed ;everyone has an equal stake in our society;, stressing that she did not want the issue of children to be a feature of the campaign.
In an interview with The Times, Mrs Leadsom said: ‘Genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.’
The Home Secretary has previously spoken about how she and husband Philip were affected by being unable to have children.
Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South, said: ‘It’s most unfortunate Andrea has attempted to suggest Theresa May is unsuitable to be leader and Prime Minister because she is not a mother.
‘This is quite frankly wrong on many levels, and I find it incredible another woman would attempt to try and frame the leadership debate in this way, especially when Theresa asked for both candidates to concentrate on the pressing issues this country faces.
‘Theresa has said she how sad she and her husband have not been able to have children, so for her rival to repeatedly try and make political capital out of it during The Times interview which I have listened to, is very disappointing for a leadership candidate.’
Alan Mak, MP for Havant, who is backing Mrs May in the leadership contest, said: ‘I’m supporting Theresa May as our next Prime Minister because of her experience at the top of government including serving as Home Secretary, and her ability to unite our party and country. ‘Andrea Leadsom’s views on motherhood have no bearing on Theresa’s abilities.
‘Nobody cares more about the future of every family in Britain than Theresa May who will lead a country that works for everyone, whether they have children or not.’
Business minister Anna Soubry said Mrs Leadsom’s comments meant she was ‘not PM material’ while Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said there was a ‘gulf in class’ between the two candidates and senior MP Sir Alan Duncan said the energy minister’s remarks were ‘vile’.
In a statement outside her constituency home in Northamptonshire, Mrs Leadsom said: “I want to make a short statement about the front page of The Times today.
‘Over the course of a lengthy interview I was repeatedly asked about my children and I repeatedly made it clear that I did not want this to be a feature of the campaign.
‘I am disgusted at the way this has been presented.
‘I want to be crystal clear that everyone has an equal stake in our society and the future of our country. That is what I believe and it is what I have always believed.
‘I have repeated my instructions to my campaign team that this campaign must at all times be principled and honourable.’
A transcript of the interview released by the newspaper following Mrs Leadsom’s complaints showed the energy minister saying: ‘I am sure Theresa will be really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be “Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t” because I think that would be really horrible but genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.
‘She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.’
The controversy came after the Home Secretary urged her rival to sign a pledge committing to a clean campaign.