How the skulduggers succeeded in bringing an end to Andrea Leadsom’s campaign to be prime minister

How the skulduggers succeeded in bringing an end to Andrea Leadsom’s campaign to be prime minister, by Allison Pearson.

What was going through Andrea Leadsom’s mind on Sunday? I had arranged to talk to her on the phone at 10.30am, but her spokesman said that she was “absolutely devastated and doesn’t think it’s possible for any newspaper interview to come out fairly again”.

The day before, The Times had run a headline claiming Leadsom said that being a mother gave her the “edge” over the childless Theresa May. Leadsom hadn’t said that, not quite; in fact, she had said the opposite several times.

I’ve had this experience. What can one do when the media lies about you? There is no effective recourse, and the damage is done.

Foolishly, though, she had allowed herself to be led onto dangerous terrain when asked how being a mum had affected her views. I pleaded for our phone call to go ahead. Again, the word came back that Leadsom, who was holed up in Northamptonshire with her family, could not believe that anyone, “however well-intentioned” wasn’t going to “stitch her up”.

In ten days, Andrea Leadsom had gone from naivety to paranoia without an intervening period of canniness and calm. You could hardly blame her. Six weeks before, she had never experienced any serious attention; now, as one friend put it, she was “in the tumble-dryer” of a media frenzy. It was a  bruising experience. …

I could hear how desperately upset Leadsom was. Both shattered and “intensely angry”…

What was the final straw? I think Leadsom was genuinely shocked by the poisonous attacks from forces within her own party. She said it was “highly unlikely” that the daily stories saying how useless/dishonest/Christian she was “are coincidental”. (Interesting, isn’t it, that no one calls practising Muslim Sadiq Khan a “religious nutter”.) …

Whatever it took, Leadsom had to be kept away from the hustings where her smiley, down-to-earth style, experience of the real world and spirited fight for Brexit might endear her to the rank and file.

Well, the skullduggers succeeded.