The man who led Andrea Leadsom’s bid to be Prime Minister has condemned his Tory colleagues for “putting smear above respect” in the way they have treated the Northamptonshire MP over the past week.
Her campaign manager Tim Loughton MP has issued a scathing attack on his fellow Conservative members following Mrs Leadsom’s decision to withdraw from the leadership race yesterday.
Mr Loughton said his candidate had been made to face an “onslaught” of personal attacks from colleagues over the past seven days, even though he says Leadsom’s team tried to stay away from smear tactics.
He said: “Throughout our short campaign we have made it clear that we should be relentlessly focussed on the positive case for electing Andrea as leader without the need to undermine the qualities of her opponents.
“Despite an onslaught of often very personal attacks from colleagues and journalists we have never deviated from that goal.
“Colleagues who have chosen to further their own ends by putting smear above respect will no doubt account for their motivations but it is genuinely puzzling to understand who they think they are helping. It is certainly not our party or our constituents.”
Mr Loughton, the member for East Worthing and Shoreham, also turned his attention to the press.
Over the weekend a story in the Times suggested Mrs Leadsom had an “edge” over leadership rival Theresa May because she had children.
Mrs Leadsom said this was taken grossly out of context, but apologised to her rival Mrs May yesterday for any “hurt caused.”
On Sunday her ally and former Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said there was a “black-ops operation to denigrate her reputation” in the press.
Mr Loughton added: “It is absolutely not the job of media commentators to ‘big up’ politicians whether in this leadership contest or elsewhere in politics. But neither should it be their compulsion constantly to try to trip them up.
“Using spin and underhand tactics against decent people whose prime motivation is to serve has for too long undermined the confidence of the public in our politics.”
Accepting the helm of the Tory party in Westminster yesterday, Theresa May praised Andrea Leadsom for her “dignity” shown in stepping down from the race.