The Conservative party leadership contest appeared to further step up in intensity on Friday as challenger Andrea Leadsom was reported saying she was the best choice for Prime Minister because she had children.
The former investment banker told The Times that her rival, Home Secretary Theresa May, must be “really sad” not to have children and argued her offspring meant she had more of a “stake” in the future of Britain.
The comments come just days after Ms May called for a “clean campaign” to improve the image of politicians to the public after the bitter debate surrounding the EU referendum.
On Friday evening, Ms Leadsom took to Twitter on Friday evening to offer a swift rebuke of the report and demand the paper provide a transcript of the interview.
She wrote: "Truly appalling and the exact opposite of what I said. I am disgusted."
But The Times reported Ms Leadsom as saying Ms May “possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.
“Genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.”
Ms Leadsom said she saw herself primarily as “an optimist” and secondly as “a member of a huge family and that’s important to me. My kids are a huge part of my life.”
Recently, Ms May had expressed sorrow at not having been able to have children with her husband, pension fund manager Philip May.
However, Ms Leadsom told the newspaper: “I am sure Theresa will be 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.”
Despite this, she implied she had more to lose from a poor economy because her children would lose out too.
“It means you don’t want a downturn,” Ms Leadsom said, “But, never mind, ten years hence it will all be fine. My children will be starting their lives in that next ten years so I have a real stake in the next year, the next two.”
The Conservative party leadership contest has already been marked by somewhat Machiavellian tones. Previous favourite, Boris Johnson, was brutally outmanoeuvred by his former Leave running mate, Michael Gove, who unexpectedly chose to enter the proceedings. But Mr Gove is now also out of the running for leadership.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies