Andrea Leadsom says withdrawal from 2016 leadership race ‘was in the country’s best interests’

Andrea Leadsom MP has opened up about her withdrawal from the Conservative Party leadership race in 2016, claiming she would make “the same decision today” and that it was “in the country’s best interests.”

In a podcast interview released today with the former Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron MP, she reflected on why she withdrew from the 2016 race, which left the door open to Theresa May to become Prime Minister, Ms Leadsom said: “The problem with being in the final two was that there was going to be a nine-week campaign, the markets were in turmoil, there were already predictions of a recession and what I was so concerned about was after nine weeks, if I won, there were already a number of colleagues saying that they would ‘no confidence’ me.”

“On the other hand, if I lost people would very legitimately be saying, ‘What on earth did you make us wait nine weeks to get a new leader for?’ So, that’s why I withdrew. You know, with the information I had at the time, I would make the same decision today.”

Commenting on her decision to run for the leadership of the party, she said: “Obviously, it was very tumultuous. But ultimately the reason I stood was because I felt I needed to stand up and be counted, I genuinely did not think that David Cameron would walk away.”

The Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire also reflected on the EU referendum debate at Wembley Arena in 2016, which catapulted her into the public eye.

Recalled what now Prime minister Boris Johnson said to her on the way to the venue she said: “It was terrifying. We were sat on that bus at the back like the sort of three naughty school kids at the back of the bus: me and Boris [Johnson] and Gisela [Stuart]. And Boris turned to me and said, ‘I’m really scared’ and I said to him, ‘Boris! You’re really scared?! You’re used to this!'”

“I’m not sure I fully realised how important but at the same time I was so, so certain in my own mind that leaving the European Union was the right thing for the United Kingdom for the right reasons.”