Andrea Leadsom:

Outgoing Conservative minister ‘absolutely willing’ to engage with Labour government

An outgoing Conservative minister has said she would be “absolutely willing” to engage with her potential successors in an incoming Labour government. 

Dame Andrea Leadsom, who once stood for the Conservative leadership, told Times Radio of her frustration over Rishi Sunak’s decision to call an early general election, which she said had thwarted her progress on plans to overhaul dentistry, GPs and early years. 

According to reports, Leadsom asked a meeting of Conservative MPs in May whether it was still possible to submit a letter of no confidence in the prime minister after he announced the election. 

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Leadsom, a health minister, reportedly made the comments at the 1922 committee on the day Sunak delivered his speech in Downing Street unveiling the July 4 poll.

At the time, Dame Andrea declined to comment, saying that “1922 Committee meetings are private”.

Leadsom, 61, is among 75 Conservative MPs who are not seeking re-election. But she remains a minister until polling day. 

Leadsom revealed she was standing down in the wake of Sunak’s decision to call the election, not long after long-serving cabinet minister Michael Gove also announced his intention to quit.  

The former cabinet minister proved a key pro-Brexit voice in the 2016 EU referendum, and subsequently stood to succeed David Cameron as PM. 

She ultimately pulled out of the leadership race, ensuring Theresa May was elected without a membership ballot. 

Speaking to the Times Radio The Exit ­Interviews series, Leadsom revealed she had already held talks with Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, about the Start for Life advice for new parents and the rollout of family hubs. 

She described the plans as “life-changing for millions of families”. 

Asked by Times Radio what advice she would give to a new minister in an incoming government, Leadsom said: “I’m absolutely willing to talk to anybody who’s coming in, whether they’re of any party, about the priorities that I was working on as a minister.” 

She added: “I’ve already said many times that I like Wes Streeting and he says, ‘No, don’t say that, that will destroy my career … Leadsom likes me’.

“But genuinely, I’ve talked to him about the Start for Life and he says that he would continue with that.”

Asked if she would agree to lead a Review of Early Years under a Labour government, Leadsom said: “Yeah, for the sake of all those families. Yes, I would do. But I don’t think he’ll ask me, by the way.”

Commenting on the prime minister’s decision to call a 4th July poll, Leadsom said: “For me personally, I would have liked a bit longer because I kind of felt I was just getting there with so many things. So that’s a personal frustration.

“But from a big-picture point of view, which is what the prime minister has to look at, he obviously felt that now was the time to go to the country.

“I can totally understand that. You don’t want to sort of look as if you’re just hanging on in there to the last minute. So yeah, I can see reasons for calling it when he did.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website. Subscribe to our daily newsletter for all the latest election news and analysis.