South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom has announced she is pulling out of the race to become Conservative leader.
In a statement outside her Westminster home Mrs Leadsom, who has come under heavy scrutiny since she announced her campaign to become leader, said she did not feel she had “sufficient support” to run a “strong and stable” Government.
Mrs Leadsom said: “The referendum demonstrated a clear desire to change
“A nine-week leadership campaign at such a critical moment for our country is highly undesirable. Business needs certainty and strong government. It is also essential current EU workers know where they stand.
“We need a new Prime Minister in place as soon as possible.
“Theresa May carried over 60 per cent of support of the parliamentary party and she is ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the British people and she has promised to do so.”
Mrs Leadsom said she was grateful to have received the backing of 84 fellow Tory MPs last week.
But she added: “This is less than 25 per cent for the Parliamentary party.
“There is no greater privilege than to lead the Conservative Party in government, and I would have been deeply honoured to do it. I have, however, concluded that the interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well supported Prime Minister. I am therefore withdrawing from the leadership election, and I wish Theresa May the very greatest success. I assure her of my full support.
Mrs Leadsom finished her speech by wishing Theresa May “the very greatest of success,” but she did not answer a question posed to her by a member of the press afterwards, asking: “was it a mistake to run?”
Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative members’1922 committee, said there would not be a reopening of the nomination process and they would be meeting later today to discuss the “formal confirmation” of Theresa May as leader of the party.
The 53-year-old MP, who was elected in 2010, faced criticism during the weekend after a story in The Times quoted her as saying she felt having children gave her a “greater stake” in the future of the country.
South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom sent her Conservative leadership rival Theresa May an apology after her comments were interpreted as an attack on the Home Secretary, who does not have any children.
Ms Leadsom said her words were taken out of context by the Times and even called on the broadsheet to retract the story.
In an interview with The Telegraph published today, Mrs Leadsom said she felt “under attack, under enormous pressure.”
Speaking outside of her constituency home on Saturday, Mrs Leadsom said: “I want to be crystal clear that everyone has an equal state in our society and in the future of our country. That is what I believe and it is what I have always believed.
“This campaign must at all times be principled and honourable.”