LONDON – Dozens of Conservative MPs have urged Andrea Leadsom to run for the party leadership since Theresa May’s failure to win a majority in the general election.
Leadsom – who stood to replace former prime minister and Tory leader David Cameron in 2016 – has been urged by a growing number of her parliamentary colleagues to put her name forward a second time, friends of the MP for South Northamptonshire have told Business Insider.
May has been under pressure ever since the Conservative Party failed to retain its parliamentary majority at the June 8 election. The party lost 13 seats while Labour gained 30, despite most polls predicting a comfortable Tory victory.
The prime minister’s approval ratings have plummeted, too. May had a net rating of -35% in a YouGov poll published immediately after the election, having been rated +10% in April when she first announced her intention to hold it.
A YouGov poll published in The Times newspaper last week found that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was the preferred choice of the British public to be prime minister for the first time ever. 35% said that Corbyn would make the “best PM” as opposed to 34% who picked May.
A number of senior Tories have emerged as potential replacements for May should she decide to resign or face a leadership challenge. Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson are both tipped as potential successors, while some ministers reportedly want Chancellor Philip Hammond to lead on a temporary basis.
Leadsom, who May appointed Leader of the House of Commons earlier this month, looks like another popular choice among Conservative MPs to enter a future leadership race. “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 earlier this morning. 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.”
Business Insider has contacted Leadsom’s office for further comment.
Would Leadsom be able to clear the final hurdle?
Brexiteer Leadsom was one of the lesser-known faces to enter the race to replace Cameron last year following his decision to resign after the EU referendum. Nevertheless, she managed to outlast high-profile Tories Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, before choosing to stand aside and let May become Britain’s second female prime minister.
Leadsom’s bid to be Conservative leader and prime minister was marred by an interview with The Times newspaper in which she implied that being a mother made her more suited to the role of prime minister than May. “I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake,” she said in the article, which was published as a front-page lead and headlined “Being a mother gives me edge on May – Leadsom.”
She is one of many Conservative MPs who have been increasingly visible on the airwaves in recent weeks, despite reportedly failing to clear their appearances in advance with Downing Street.