Having a Northants MP as a Prime Minister could have '˜benefits' says council leader

There is now a very real possibility the next Prime Minister will be from a Northamptonshire constituency for the first time since 1812 - but is that good news for the county?

Wednesday, 6th July 2016, 6:30 am
Andrea Leadsom launched her leadership campaign on Monday saying she would be the best person to lead the country out of the EU. But what would it be like having a Northants MP as Prime Minister?

As of today the South Northamptonshire MP stands as the second favourite to take over the helm of the country in September.

It means that by the time the candidates are whittled down to just two by next Tuesday, it now looks increasingly likely Mrs Leadsom and Theresa May will be left to contest the leadership as a two-horse race.

Northamptonshire has not seen one of its elected MPs as a Prime Minister since Spencer Perceval took the helm in 1809.

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Towcester town hall and Market Square.

He was assassinated three years later.

But should Andrea Leadsom win, what would it mean for South Northamptonshire?

Leader of South Northants Council, Councillor Ian McCord, said having a constituent MP who is also the Prime Minister could have benefits.

He said: “I certainly don’t think it would be a bad thing.

Home Secretary Theresa May is Andrea Leadsom's main challenge for the the Conservative leadership, according to bookmakers.

“I’m not suggesting by any means a Prime Minister would be able to get us extra favours - I’m sure people in Witney don’t say ‘we got this built because David Cameron is our MP’.

“But it would be extremely useful in raising the profile of the area.”

In her constituency Mrs Leadsom had been a vocal campaigner against the controversial HS2 high speed railway line, which would skirt through the south of the county once it is built.

In 2013 she told the Chron: “I continue to think this (HS2) is not a good project.

Towcester town hall and Market Square.

“I think it does not offer good value for money, and the business case is getting worse and worse.

“But me and other MPs are having to recognise that if it goes ahead, the focus has to be on getting the best compensation and mitigation for constituents.”

But if she were elected as Prime Minister she would be in charge of overseeing the project.

On Monday, while launching her leadership campaign she was asked whether she could deliver HS2 if she were a Prime Minister, despite her campaigning.

Home Secretary Theresa May is Andrea Leadsom's main challenge for the the Conservative leadership, according to bookmakers.

She took a softer line than she did in 2013.

“I would certainly want to make sure it offers the best value for taxpayers,” she said.

But as many South Northants constituents continue to chase the Government for compensation over HS2, Councillor McCord believes Mrs Leadsom’s response was “pragmatic.”

He said; “The fact is a lot of money has not been spent on securing that line.

“It would be very difficult for her to come out of the plan when it has very much jumped off the proverbial diving board.

“I don’t think any Prime Minister could cancel HS2.

“I know she is not a fan, but she couldn’t turn back on it now.”

Yesterday, Mrs Leadsom found herself on the end of a series of attacks from fellow party members as the leadership race heated up.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the South Northants former banker was too inexperienced, and an as-yet-unnamed Tory MP described Mrs Leadsom’s Parliamentary hustings as going down “like a bucket of cold sick.”

Though she was elected in 2015 with a huge majority, not every constituent thinks she has leadership potential.

Anne Vickers, who works at the Bull Inn near to Mrs Leadsom’s constituency offices in Towcester, voted to leave the EU.

But she is one of many in the town who would prefer remain campaigner Theresa May to lead the country.

She said: “I just don’t think she (Andrea Leadsom) has the experience.

“I think Theresa May is very confident and down to earth, she would be brilliant.”

However Mrs Leadsom remains very much in he running, with prominent supporters such as Boris Johnson citing her experience in the financial sector as a key reason to vote for her. She worked in the financial sector for Barclays Bank as director between 1993 and 1997 and later at Invesco.

As for her chances - yesterday William Hill has Mrs Leadsom as a 2/1 shot for the leadership.