LONDON — Andrea Leadsom reportedly threatened to resign from the cabinet and throw the government into disarray if Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t make her a senior minister following last month’s general election.
Leadsom — who ran against May to replace David Cameron as Conservative leader last year — wanted to be promoted to either Home Secretary or Foreign Secretary and threatened to resign if she wasn’t given a more high-profile role in May’s team, the Times newspaper reports.
Leadsom was one of a handful of MPs who May had planned to remove from cabinet had she won a comfortable majority in the general election, the Times adds.
The paper reports that May believed Leadsom had difficulty mastering the complexities of her brief as Environment Secretary as the government approached Brexit.
However, May’s failure to return enough MPs to form a majority government on June 8 damaged her authority within the Tory party and emboldened Leadsom to demand a more senior position within government.
The MP for South Northamptonshire eventually agreed to leave the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and serve as House of Commons leader — but not after a major stand-off between Number 10 and her office behind closed doors. The Times says Leadsom “stood her ground for several hours” and only agreed to the Commons leader role after being promised a “wide-ranging role” in representing the government in the media.
Tory MPs want Leadsom to run for the leadership
This report comes a week after close friends of Leadsom told Business Insider that dozens of Conservative MPs have emailed her urging to consider another leadership bid since the shock general election result.
“When Cameron resigned she [Andrea] received hundreds of emails,” the Tory source told Business Insider. “And the same thing happened this time around.”
Labour MP Kerry McCarthy asked Leadsom to comment on this article during a parliamentary session last Thursday. Speaking from the dispatch box, Leadsom said:
“In answer to her first point, it is absolutely right for this country and for this party that we get behind Theresa May who is doing a great job as prime minister and I am absolutely committed to her remaining leader of our country for as long as she wishes to do so, just to be very clear about that.”
The Times reports that Number 10 feared Leadsom resigning from cabinet would trigger a leadership challenge and pave the way for yet another election and a likely victory for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. May was the second least popular senior Tory of 29 among Conservative Party activists in a Conservative Home survey published this week.