Andrea Leadsom slammed for saying she has ‘a stake’ over Theresa May because she has kids

Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom, who opposes gay adoption rights, has denied telling a newspaper that she had an advantage over rival Theresa May because she has children.

An interview was published in the Times in which the Energy Minister said Mrs May “possibly has nieces, nephews” but said because she has children she has a “very real stake” in the prosperity of Britain.

Responding, Mrs May urged Mrs Leadsom to back a “clean campaign pledge”.

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At her Northamptonshire Mrs Leadsom said: “I am disgusted at the way this has been presented.

“I want to be crystal clear that everyone has an equal stake in our society and in the future of our country. That is what I believe, and it is what I have always believed.”

The Times newspaper has published the transcript of the interview and defended its publication.

On the recording, Mrs Leadsom is asked by the journalist: “During the debates, you repeatedly said: ‘as a mum’. Do you feel like a mum in politics?”

Mrs Leadsom’s replied: “Yes. I am sure – I don’t really know Theresa very well – but, I am sure she will be really, really sad that she doesn’t have children.

“So I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea’s got children and Theresa hasn’t’. Do you know what I mean? Because I think that would be really horrible.

“But, genuinely, I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.

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“You know, I mean… she possibly has nieces, nephews, you know, lots of people – but I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.”

She has been criticised by a number of fellow Tory politicians including Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Tory MP Alan Duncan who tweeted their dismay at the comments.

David Cameron defended equal marriage in the UK against criticism from Leadsom, who said legislation to legalise it in England and Wales was “muddled”.

Mrs Leadsom has said this week that she “doesn’t like” the legislation that brought about equal marriage and would have preferred it if gay couples only had civil partnerships.

The MP for South Northamptonshire, had ‘positively abstained’ on the issue in 2013, voting both for and against same-sex marriage.

She was earlier this week linked to a ‘gay cure’ group in Uganda.

Theresa May has maintained a commanding lead in the race to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister – with Justice Secretary Michael Gove eliminated from the running by Mrs Leadsom.

But a new poll by the campaign suggests that Mrs Leadsom could be winning more support than her rival.

Here is how the two remaining candidates stand on equality issues.