Tory contender: Andrea Leadsom


A political profile of Andrea Leadsom, who was one of the last two contenders to be the next Conservative leader and prime minister. She withdrew on 11 July.

Media caption,
Andrea Leadsom defends CV and calls for 'honourable' campaigning

Date of Birth: 13 May 1963

Job: Energy and climate change minister

Education: Tonbridge Girls' Grammar School; Warwick university

Family: Married with two sons and one daughter

On her party's future: She says she has entered the race to be Conservative leader as she "really believes in the opportunity thrown up by the referendum" and has "a real heart" for the job, adding: "This is something I really long to do." She says delivering on the referendum is "absolutely top priority" for the next prime minister. "It's not just about leaving something, it's about re-engaging with the rest of the world," she says. She also says she has a "real desire to see the social justice in our country turned around", and, if elected, would focus on mental health, improving skills and getting young people into work.

Where she stands on Brexit: She campaigned to get Britain out of the EU and has described the referendum result as "a huge opportunity for our great country". She believes in scrapping free movement and wants free trade negotiations with the rest of the world. She told Sky News: "My personal view, very genuinely, is the next leader is someone who has to deliver on the promise of the referendum because they can see the huge advantages and they believe in them. I think it's very difficult for somebody who campaigned to stay in, who thinks that there will be disaster if we leave, to suddenly turn it around and start believing we can make a go of it."

When she would trigger Article 50: Would push button to take Britain out of the EU as soon as she becomes prime minister.

Free movement policy: Has promised to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living and working in the UK - but suggested new arrangements for people arriving after 23 June.

"On free movement, we have to very quickly get in control of the numbers of people who are coming here, whether that means we have to have a transitional arrangement since the referendum, or indeed since negotiations start. But it is very clear that what we must prioritise as soon as possible, now there is clarity about the direction that we are going in, that we want to control the numbers of people coming here."

What the press says: "Leadsom shot to prominence during the referendum campaign. The energy minister is behind [Theresa] May in the pecking order but has a touch of Thatcher steel. A good showing could secure her the chancellorship," says the Independent.

Political profile

A previously obscure junior minister, Andrea Leadsom grabbed her chance to shine in two TV debates during the EU referendum campaign as part of a Leave "dream team" with Boris Johnson and Labour MP Gisela Stuart.

The junior energy and climate change minister traded verbal blows with her Remain-backing boss Amber Rudd in one debate and impressed observers with her calm and reasoned economic arguments for Brexit - something she has changed her view on in the past few years.

In January 2013 she launched a manifesto for a "new settlement in the EU for Britain" with a group of fellow Tories, telling the BBC's Daily Politics that reform was needed but "we don't want to leave the EU, it would be a disaster for Britain's economy".

She has played down the warnings she was making about the risks of leaving the EU, arguing that the situation had changed. She told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I think that the risks of remaining in the EU massively magnified since around that time."

She has also defended her lack of front-line political experience at her campaign launch by saying she had two years running a ministerial portfolio and had also run businesses and charities.

"Our current prime minister hadn't been in government at all before he become leader and then prime minister," she added.

Before entering politics, she enjoyed a long career on the trading floors of the City of London and as a Barclays investment banker.

She also founded a charity to promote "parent infant psychotherapy", based around her belief that strong bonds between parents and children in their early years can prevent anti-social behaviour and end the "cycle of misery passed down the generations".

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mrs Leadsom raised her profile in TV referendum debates

Mrs Leadsom said she was "completely, totally bowled over" and "really disappointed" by Boris Johnson's decision not to stand in the contest but had decided to throw her hat into the ring.

As an energy and climate change minister, she has championed fracking and raised eyebrows among environmental campaigners.

She told trade magazine Drill and Drop: "When I first came to this job one of my two questions was 'Is climate change real?' and the other was 'Is hydraulic fracturing safe?' And, on both of those questions, I now am completely persuaded."

Mrs Leadsom entered Parliament in 2010 as the MP for South Northamptonshire after a 25-year career in banking and finance - realising an ambition she first developed at the age of 13.

She was deputy financial institutions director at Barclays and according to her website, worked with then Bank of England governor Eddie George to avert a crisis after the 1995 Barings collapse.

She later spent a decade working for a fund management company - her financial experience gaining her first a seat on the Treasury Select Committee and then a stint as economic secretary to the Treasury with responsibility for financial services.

She came from humble beginnings for a Conservative politician, being brought up in Tring, Hertfordshire, by a divorced mother in a terraced house with an outside toilet.

She had a spell as a councillor in South Oxfordshire from 2003-07 - during which she fought an unsuccessful general election campaign in the safe Labour seat of Knowsley South - before becoming an MP.