Isabel Hardman

Leadsom delivers a parting shot at Bercow

Text settings
Comments

Andrea Leadsom has just given a rather long and very comprehensive personal statement in the Commons following her sacking in last month's reshuffle. She took no parting shots at Boris Johnson at all, preferring instead to focus any anger on former Speaker John Bercow, with whom she had a very long-running feud.

Someone with very little knowledge of what has happened in Westminster in the past few years might have been forgiven for thinking that Bercow was the one responsible for her leaving government, rather than the Prime Minister. 

She denied reports that she had once told George Osborne to 'eff off', and instead suggested that the only person she would use that language towards would be the previous Speaker. She also talked about the satisfaction she felt when she demanded Bercow apologise for calling her a 'stupid woman'. Johnson, on the other hand, received her full backing, her thanks for giving her a job in his first cabinet, and her congratulations on the pregnancy of his fiancée Carrie Symonds.

Unlike Sajid Javid's statement after his resignation as Chancellor, the outgoing Business Secretary didn't offer any advice for the government at all. Leadsom seemed content to highlight her own achievements and explain that she will now be focusing on her passion for early intervention in vulnerable children's lives. 

Why did she bother giving a personal statement at all if it was just to look back on the past few years at work? It is clear that what has long irked Leadsom is the way she hasn't been taken seriously by some in Westminster. The way Bercow addressed her in such dismissive terms was the most obvious manifestation of this, but she also struggled to get promoted under David Cameron (partly because Osborne didn't like the way she had publicly criticised him) and found herself derided by No. 10 when Theresa May was in charge. 

When she was pushing for the introduction of proxy voting for new parents, a couple of MPs from the Tory and Labour parties took me aside to tell me that 'Downing Street has fucked over Andrea on this business', explaining that the centre didn't rate the then Leader of the House and was therefore inclined to hang her out to dry, even on reforms that many MPs were pushing for. 

Today's speech seemed to be her way of answering back to the constant muttering that she wasn't up to much with a list of what she has achieved while in government.