LONDON (Reuters) - Andrea Leadsom was largely unknown to most British voters before the Brexit referendum but her upbeat argument that Britain could flourish outside the European Union resonated with voters, helping to steer the Leave campaign to a surprise victory.
Now the junior energy minister is battling interior minister Theresa May to become Britain’s next prime minister in a Conservative Party contest that will be decided on Sept. 9.
Below is a summary of Leadsom’s background and her comments on Britain, the EU and how the two should separate.
The 53-year-old was raised by a single mother and educated at a selective state school in Kent, southeast England. She studied political science at Warwick University before working in banking and finance for 25 years, including roles at Barclays and fund manager Invesco Perpetual.
She has said that in 1995 she helped the then governor of the Bank of England, Eddie George, to reassure markets and prevent a run on the banks over the weekend that Barings Bank collapsed.
Peter Norris, the chief executive of Barings at the time, has told Reuters he has “absolutely no recollection of her at all”.
Leadsom was elected to parliament in 2010 and worked as a junior minister in the finance ministry before her current role as a minister in the energy department.
A devout Christian, she is married to a businessman, Ben, and has three children. She has also worked as the chairman of a children’s charity which helps families that are struggling to form a secure bond with new babies.
“Nearly 80 percent of the world’s GDP lies outside the EU and, in marked contrast to the EU, most of it is growing strongly. We need to embrace that opportunity to ensure our future prosperity.
“We must address an imbalance that has persisted for too long between the interests of ordinary people in this country and those of big business, the Brussels and London elites and their various fan clubs.
“I intend to keep the negotiations as short as possible. Neither we, nor our European friends, need prolonged uncertainty and not everything needs to be negotiated before Article 50 is triggered, and the exit process is concluded.”
“Our renegotiation will be in the hands of a dedicated cabinet colleague.” (July 4)
“You do not need to be in the single market. We do not need that. We are the world’s fifth biggest economy and most economies can agree free trade deals within two years.” (June 21)
“Democratically elected European parliaments will take pragmatic decisions about what’s in their interest and they will choose to give tariff-free access to the UK.”
“I will prioritise new trade deals with the fastest growing parts of the world.” (July 4)
“Passporting basically means you can either do business somewhere without a subsidiary or you can’t. A subsidiary could be a little brass plate for which you pay 250 quid (pounds) a year.
“Passporting is such rubbish, it’s the biggest red herring. Next time anyone talks about passporting, just blow them a big raspberry.” (May 19)
“The richest people of Britain should know that they will not be my priority.
“Those people who have become rich by winning boardroom pay rises that bear no relation to company performance should be aware that I find this unacceptable. (July 4)
“Freedom of movement will end and the British parliament will decide how many people enter our country each year to live, work and contribute to our national life.
“I commit today to immediately guaranteeing the rights of our EU friends who have already come here to live and work.” (July 4)
“I’ll continue to build on the good work that George Osborne has done in reducing the deficit.
“When there is room for tax cuts they must be focused on the low-paid. I’ll make rapid decisions on airport expansion.” (July 4)
“My overall approach to Putin would be to absolutely tell him he needs to abide by international law. What we have seen is a gradual encroachment with some really quite brutal activities that we need to try to get under control.
“At home we need to be working very hard to ensure we have got the diplomatic contacts and the ability to rein in those people who just want to do their own thing and expand their own activities outside of international law.” (July 7)
“I believe the love of same sex couples is every bit as valuable as that of opposite sex couples.
“I would have preferred for Civil Partnerships to be available to heterosexual and gay couples and for marriage to have remained as a Christian service for men and women who wanted to commit in the eyes of God. I didn’t really like the legislation, that was the problem, but I absolutely support gay marriage.”
“She was real leadership. As a person, she was always kind and courteous and as a leader she was steely and determined. I think that’s an ideal combination - and I do like to think that’s where I am.”
“I am a very committed Christian. I think my values and everything I do is driven by that. It’s very important to me. I actually study the Bible in Parliament with a group of colleagues and I do go to church but I am not a regular. (July 2)
“I am sure she (Theresa May) will be really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible.
“But genuinely I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.” (July 9)
“I would absolutely commit to holding a vote to repeal the hunting ban.”
Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones