Tonbridge MP Tom gets behind Theresa as she heads for Number 10

Tonbridge MP Tom gets behind Theresa as she heads for Number 10

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Andrea Leadsom

Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat, who made his debut on BBC One’s Question Time programme last week, had confirmed his support for Theresa May as the next Prime Minister even before a twist in the story saw her get a firm grip on the keys to Number 10 Downing Street.

Her main opponent in the race to become Britain’s second female Prime Minister had been Andrea Leadsom, a former Tonbridge Grammar School pupil.

But in a dramatic turn of events on Monday, Mrs Leadsom announced that she was standing down from the contest following a newspaper interview she gave in which she was reported as saying that being a mother gave her an edge in her fight to become leader.

Mr Tugendhat had previously decided not to indicate which of the five original candidates he was supporting in the initial round of the contest.

Then, having been at the forefront of the Brexit campaign, Justice Secretary Michael Gove was knocked out of the race, along with Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb.

With the contest reduced to two candidates, the Tonbridge MP said he believed Home Secretary Mrs May, who backed the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, was ‘the best candidate to guide the nation’.

Andrea Leadsom had rejected criticism over claims that she allegedly inflated her CV, and of her change of mind over the EU that saw her support the Leave campaign.

Despite the controversies, she was popular within the grassroots of the Conservative Party. Its members had been due to vote between the two, with results announced in September.

Mr Tugendhat said: “Theresa May is committed to delivering a strong, independent Britain with excellent links to our European friends and the rest of the world. She will provide the leadership our nation needs and, I am sure, reassure those who invest in our economy that the UK is very much open for business.

“I have also received assurances from Theresa that any decision on increased airport capacity in south-east England will be taken by the whole Cabinet. I firmly expect they will take into account the recommendations made by Sir Howard Davies in the Airports Commission’s report,” explained the MP, who added that Mrs May’s experience in government made her well placed to understand the security, economic and social pressures facing the country.

During Mr Tugendhat’s first appearance on Question Time last Thursday, the former army officer, who served in the Afghan war and was stationed in Iraq when war was announced in 2003, spoke passionately about his own experiences following the publication on the Chilcot report into the conflict, and tackled several crucial political issues, including whether a general election should be called.

He said: “I think we have to go down the route of [EU] negotiation before we have an election, as this country needs stability so that businesses know what we are doing, so they can set up again and start recruiting.

“Once we have the negotiating strategy ready, and we know what question we are actually putting to the British people, then of course it is right that they should make a choice.

“Whether that’s through a second referendum or in the Government position being put before a general election, I’d much prefer a general election.”