Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

Andrea Leadsom’s scratchy job interview on the Marr show

Is Andrea Leadsom a serious contender to become Prime Minister? A few days ago, she was almost about to sign up to Team Boris, and even held talks with Team Crabb & Javid. Which made sense: she has been in parliament for just six years, and has been a junior minister for an even shorter time. But to those Tories unable to forgive Michael Gove for knifing Boris, she is the only viable Brexit candidate. Until Leadson turned up on the Brexit debates, she was virtually unknown. Now, we’re being asked to assess her as a Prime Minister. Her appearance on the Marr show today was a chance to do that: it as a job interview, on live TV.

He started by quoting extracts from a speech that she gave to the Hansard Society just three years ago, saying that Brexit would be a “disaster for our economy and would lead to a decade of economic and political uncertainty at a time when the tectonic plates are moving”. She said that her view had moved on since then: that’s true for a lot of us, myself included. But I never thought that Brexit would lead to disaster, as she seems to have done. Nor am I as relaxed as she about the turbulence now. So the distance of her journey is quite considerable.

“That speech was in April 2013 and things have so moved on,” she said. Maybe so, said Andrew Marr, but your fundamental point as about the damage that the act of Brexit would do. The risks of staying in the EU “massively magnified at about that time” she said: Greece has lost 25pc of her economy, you have a massive migration crisis at the same time that the UK’s economy has been recovering. So the EU had become a different beast. Perhaps so, but she fails to deal with the fundamental point: the act of Brexit is dramatic, and does trigger precisely the uncertainty she warned of back then.

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