Andrea Leadsom March Is Erm... Interesting

'This is what happens when you’ve only really heard about the concept of a protest march.'

07/07/2016 11:13 | Updated 07 July 2016
Yui Mok/PA Wire
Leadsom's supporters on the march

You may already be aware but there is a race on for the Tory leadership.

Leading the charge is Theresa May followed by the relative unknown, Andrea Leadsom.

Her supporters are trying to change that and have taken it upon themselves to hold a little march in London...

Led by a slightly awkward MP Tim Loughton, the poshest, most polite demonstration in Westminster’s history snaked its way through London’s streets on Thursday morning.

The Guardian’s Alex Hern put it best... 

Interestingly, the focus of the march wasn’t actually present. 

The march came shorty after Leadsom had made a speech to supporters in which she promised to “banish pessimism” in the wake of Brexit.

She also sought to calm the financial markets, saying: “No one need fear the decision to leave the EU.”

 The battle to be Britain’s next prime minister will see one of the three remaining candidates for Tory leader eliminated today, as the party was rocked by accusations of backstabbing and vote-rigging.

The two candidate to top today’s ballot of Tory MPs will be in the run-off contest that grass roots members will vote on.

It comes after Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s team insisted he was kept in the dark about a plot to get supporters of Home Secretary Theresa May to switch sides in order to block the surge of Andrea Leadsom.

The Justice Secretary’s campaign manager Nick Boles was forced into a humiliating apology after being caught pushing pro-May MPs to vote tactically to ensure Gove made the final two instead of Leadsom.

Boles apologised, claiming Gove “did not know about it let alone authorise it. And it does not reflect his views.”

The storm erupted after the Justice Secretary was confronted at election hustings over the texts sent by Boles to scores of MPs.

The text said Boles thought it was “overwhelmingly likely” May would triumph, but he was “seriously frightened” that if Leadsom made the final two she could connect with members in the way Iain Duncan Smith had previously.

The text said: “I am seriously frightened about the risk of allowing Andrea Leadsom onto the membership ballot.

“What if Theresa stumbles? Are we really confident that the membership won’t vote for a fresh face who shares their attitudes about much of modern life, like they did with IDS?

“Michael doesn’t mind spending two months taking a good thrashing from Theresa if that is what it takes to put the party’s interest and the national interest, surely we must all work together to stop AL?”

When Gove was challenged about the text at the hustings, a pro-May MP said he met the question with “a sort of giggle, and then he sat down. He didn’t disown it, because so many MPs have received it, it is quite difficult to disown it.”

Former leader Duncan Smith warned that Tory MPs “do not want to spend the whole time stabbing each other in the back”.

The row exploded as Leadsom published her CV in a bid to clear up controversy over her past business roles after it was claimed by opponents that she has been exaggerating her experience.

The hustings also saw Leadsom say that she would not release her tax returns, as other candidates have, unless she made the run-off. 

The minister told MPs that they could come to see a summary of her tax affairs personally if they wanted to.

Referring to unguarded comments recorded by Sky News by Tory former chancellor Ken Clarke in which he referred to Mrs May as “a bloody difficult woman”, the Home Secretary joked that the next person to take that view of her would be Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president.

The hustings came as Conservative MPs who support all three remaining leadership candidates are urging the party to speed up the contest so a new prime minister is chosen by the end of the month.

A group of around 30 MPs have signed a letter written by former Tory chairman Grant Shapps, which calls on the party to give members three weeks to pick a leader after the third place candidate is eliminated on Thursday.

The Home Secretary is clear favourite to be one of the two contenders chosen by MPs to go forward to a vote of around 150,000 Conservative members across the country to elect a new leader - and prime minister - on September 9.

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