UK Prime Minister race heats up

Comments about motherhood from Andrea Leadsom lead to media storm over supposed attack against childless Theresa May.

Shai Landesman,

London
London
Rachael Cerrotti/Flash90

The two-horse race for Prime Minister of Britain is taking some of the usual twists and turns of political campaigns, with squabbles over comments and what they may or may not reveal about candidate's values; this despite the fact that the post-Brexit scramble to find another PM is anything but usual.

The identity of the next political leader of Britain will be decided by 150,000 members of the Conservative Party (often known as the "Tories"), choosing between Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, with the winner to become the UK's second female Prime Minister.

A political storm brewed over the weekend, caused by Leadsom's comments to the effect that May's childlessness may make her less qualified to be Prime Minister.

“Genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake,” Leadsom said in an interview with the Times.

This was interpreted by many Conservative Members of Parliament as suggesting that Secretary May had less of a tangible stake in the country's future because she doesn't have any children. A round of scathing condemnations from MPs and other Conservative leaders followed, with one calling the comments "vile", and another saying they proved that Leadsom "isn't PM material".

Minister Leadsom, for her part, claimed that her comments were taken out of context, saying she was "disgusted" by how her words were portrayed in the media, and that she doesn't want the motherhood issue to be part of the campaign going forward.

The controversy resonated with media and voters in the UK nonetheless, as it plays into popular notions of the ideological differences between the candidates. May is popular with the party's politicians and has the support of a great majority of MPs, but Leadsom is popular with party members due to her more conservative-leaning, Christian values.




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