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Dublin: 10°C Monday 8 August 2022

Theresa May on the brink as Andrea Leadsom resigns from government

Leadsom made the announcement this evening.

Andrea Leadsom sitting alongside Theresa May in the House of Commons.
Andrea Leadsom sitting alongside Theresa May in the House of Commons.
Image: PA Images

UK CABINET MINISTER Andrea Leadsom has quit Theresa May’s government, heaping more pressure on the beleaguered British Prime Minister. 

Leadsom was the runner up in the Conservative leadership contest when May became leader in 2016 and until today served as Leader of the House of Commons.

In a statement this evening, Leadsom says she stayed in Cabinet “to shape and fight for Brexit” but “no longer believes that our approach will deliver on the referendum result”. 

Leadsom said she had taken the decision to resign “with great regret and with a heavy heart”.

The senior minister says May’s latest proposal risks “undermining our Union” and will not deliver “a truly sovereign United Kingdom”

As part of a strategy to attempt to win support in the House of Commons, May tied the passing of her Withdrawal Agreement to an MPs vote on the holding of another referendum. 

The decision enraged many within her own Tory party who pointed to the agreed policy that they would deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum.

In her statement, Leadsom said she had made some “uncomfortable compromises” up until now but cannot continue to support May. 

“I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result, for the following reasons,” she wrote.

1. I do not believe that we will be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed.

2. I have always maintained that a second referendum would be dangerously divisive, and I do not support the government willingly facilitating such a concession. It would also risk undermining our Union which is something I passionately want to see strengthened.

3. There has been such a breakdown of government processes that recent Brext-related legislative proposals have not been properly scrutinised or approved by Cabinet members.

4. The tolerance to those in Cabinet who have advocated policies contrary to the Government’s position has led to a complete breakdown of collective responsibility.

Theresa May attends church Prime Minister Theresa May has been leader of the Conservative Party since July 2016. Source: PA Images

Leadsom made reference to the European elections being held in the UK tomorrow and said she had “considered carefully the timing of this decision”. 

This latest departure has placed more pressure on May on a day in which her own departure appeared to be immement. 

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May will meet her party’s backbench 1922 Committee on Friday.  

Only last week, the 1922 Committee said that a timetable for May’s departure would be announced next month.

May had survived a confidence vote of her parliamentary party in December. Under the rules of the 1922 Committee, another confidence vote in her leadership could not be called within in a year.

A poll of Conservative Party members last week found that former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is their overwhelming favourite to lead the party after May steps down. 

Johnson has already stated that he will contest a leadership contest and Leadsom’s departure will be taken as a sign that she will also.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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