Tory leadership race: Who is Andrea Leadsom? Can she become Britain's second consecutive female PM?

The race for Number 10: Andrea Leadsom

In a series of in-depth profiles, we take a look at the Tory leadership candidates to replace Theresa May and become Britain’s new Prime Minister.

Andrea Leadsom, the former leader of the House of Commons, launched her official bid to lead the country on Tuesday. In the wake of the Brexit referendum in 2016, she went up against Mrs May for the top job - now she is aiming to replace her.

In one sentence:

A tough, experienced, ambitious and traditional Tory, Andrea Leadsom may not have much support within her party or recognition with the public, but she is hoping a hard stance on Brexit will get her into Number 10.

Betting odds:

The third favourite at 7/1 behind Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

How did she vote on Brexit, and what does she think now?

In 2016, Mrs Leadsom was one of the most prominent pro-Brexit campaigners, sharing a platform with fellow Leaver Boris Johnson in a televised debate.

Andrea Leadsom is the third favourite to win the leadership race (Picture: PA)

However, three years earlier, in a lecture at the Hansard Society, she actually warned against leaving the European Union, saying it would be a “disaster for our economy”.

She later clarified those comments by saying she had revised her position after travelling extensively across Europe examining the impact the EU has on the UK.

Launching her leadership bid on Tuesday, Mrs Leadsom promised that delivering Brexit by October 31 would be a "hard red line" for her.

She quit her position as leader of the House of Commons last month over Mrs May's final attempt to get her deal over the line.

Mrs Leadsom insists MPs cannot stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal at the end of October.

Unlike many other Tory leadership contenders, Mrs Leadsom has actually set out a strategy for Brexit if she becomes prime minister.

Her three-part plan features a citizens’ rights Bill, offers assurances to businesses and will seek to manage the UK’s departure with EU officials.

Any controversy?

Mrs Leadsom was forced to pull out of the Tory leadership contest in the wake of the Brexit referendum in 2016, when the party was seeking a successor to David Cameron.

She had made it to the final two candidates and was up against Mrs May for the leadership, but made controversial remarks about motherhood in an interview with The Times, which led to her quitting the race.

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She told the newspaper: “I don't really know Theresa very well but I am sure she will be really, 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 being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.”

Andrea Leadsom quit the 2016 race to be Tory leader after she made controversial comments about motherhood to a newspaper (Picture: PA)

Mrs Leadsom said this week she has learned from the experience.

"Of all candidates, I am the one who will not be withdrawing under any circumstances.”

Asked about the lessons she learnt from the last campaign, Mrs Leadsom said: "First of all stay positive, stay true to yourself. Put your country ahead of yourself. And I'm just going to say, never say 'as a mother'."

Key policy promises:

Mrs Leadsom said she would focus on “bringing the country back together and healing divisions” and listed her priorities as building new homes, cutting crime and promoting business.

Mrs Leadsom also promised to help the UK transform into a carbon neutral economy and said she would prioritise funding for schools and policing.

Voting history:

Mrs Leadsom has never voted on equal gay rights or on allowing marriage between two people of the same sex.

She has consistently voted in favour of raising university tuition fees.

Could Andrea Leadsom be moving into Number 10? (Picture: PA)

Career to date:

Born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Mrs Leadsom said she wanted to be an MP from the age of 13, when she wished to "save the world from a nuclear war".

She studied political science at the University of Warwick then started a career in the financial sector, working for Barclays Bank, before moving on to various investment management funds.

Mrs Leadsom was elected as an MP for South Northamptonshire in 2010 and started her time in Parliament as a member of the Treasury Select Committee.

She became economic secretary to the Treasury in 2014 and also took the post of City Minister, successfully recovering £1.36 billion from the Icelandic government that had been used to bail out the Landsbanki Estate during the global financial crisis.

Mrs Leadsom was re-elected in 2015 and became minister of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, despite previously being opposed to wind farms.

After her failed leadership bid in 2016, she was moved to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and the following year she became leader of the House of Commons.

She held the role until her resignation last month in protest at Mrs May’s handling of Brexit.

What her colleagues say:

Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry: “There is only one person standing who I know who fits the bill, and that person is Andrea Leadsom.

“Andrea is exactly the sort of decisive and compassionate leader we need to take our country forward, and to deliver on the result of the referendum.”

Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives: “I am supporting Andrea Leadsom to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Andrea Leadsom resigned as leader of the House of Commons over Theresa May's handling of Brexit (Picture: PA)

“I believe that she has the most coherent strategy for delivering the Brexit people voted for in the best possible time frame, and she has outlined to me personally her commitment to dramatically improve the UK’s role in tackling climate change if she becomes Prime Minister.”

Public awareness:

She came from nowhere to try to win the leadership contest three years ago, and while her profile at Westminster has risen since, she still isn’t instantly recognisable among voters - she is only the 26th most famous Conservative politician, according to YouGov.

In her own words:

Mrs Leadsom has previously compared herself to Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Andrea Leadsom will be hoping for the thumbs up from Conservative Party members (Picture: PA)

“As a person, she was always kind and courteous and as a leader she was steely and determined,” she said. “I think that’s an ideal combination – and I do like to think that’s where I am.”

Did you know?

Mrs Leadsom loves Love Island. She said she is a fan of the hit ITV2 show. "I watched a clip of the one where they were talking about Brexit, and whether that meant you couldn't go on holiday any more in Europe, which I was slightly taken aback by.

"But actually, the one I really enjoyed was where they had those dolls that were supposed to be their babies, and I thought that was quite amusing - they were all caring for a doll. Great programme, really entertaining."

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