Tory leadership contest: Andrea Leadsom named 'worst Treasury minister ever'

City officials hit out at Leadsom over 'disastrous' time as junior minister

Adam Withnall
Monday 04 July 2016 09:01 BST
Energy Andrea Leadsom being interviewed on the Andrew Marr show
Energy Andrea Leadsom being interviewed on the Andrew Marr show (EPA)

Andrea Leadsom is facing new scrutiny over her political background after she emerged as a serious contender to challenge Theresa May for the Conservative Party leadership.

Though Ms Leadsom was a leading light in arguing for Brexit during the EU referendum campaign, she has faced criticism over her lack of experience at the highest level of government.

Unlike all of her rivals in the Tory leadership contest, Ms Leadsom has never held a cabinet-level ministerial position.

And officials in the Treasury, where she worked as a junior minister from April 2014 to May 2015, have issued an extraordinary criticism of her track record in government.

“She was the worst minister we’ve ever had," one unnamed City official told the Financial Times.

“She found it difficult to understand issues or take decisions,” another said. “She was monomaniacal, seeing the EU as the source of every problem.

“She alienated officials by continually complaining about poor drafting.”

The Mail on Sunday obtained a recording of a speech Ms Leadsom give in April 2013 in which she said: “I don’t think the UK should leave the EU.

“I think it would be a disaster for our economy and it would lead to a decade of economic and political uncertainty at a time when the tectonic plates of global success are moving.”

Ms Leadsom’s press team initially told The Independent the Mail story was “complete nonsense” and the recording was “taken completely out of context”.

She later defended the speech on the Andrew Marr Show, saying she had been on a “journey” since making those comments and it had become “very clear the EU is just not reformable”.

According to an ICM poll for the Sun on Sunday, Ms May is the favourite among Tory voters with 60 per cent saying they would choose her to be the next Prime Minister.

Michael Gove came second with 10 per cent, while Ms Leadsom was in third on six per cent.

Ms Leadsom worked as a banker with Barclays and Invesco Perpetual before she was elected as an MP in 2010, and she says she believes it would be the best thing for business if the formal process of Brexit was triggered as soon as possible.

“It's about giving certainty to businesses, it's about saying to the world 'we're open for business',” she told Marr.

“We need to get on with it, we need to get a grip and make progress.”

Ms Leadsom currently serves in David Cameron's government as a junior energy minister, where she supports fracking.

She has previously admitted she questioned whether climate change "was real" when she joined the department, but said she is now "completely persuaded".

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