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Is motherhood an advantage for UK's next PM?

Published:Sunday | July 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Two Conservative women running to become Britain's next leader are facing a question that wouldn't be raised if there were male candidates for the job: Does being a mother make you better qualified to be prime minister?

A political maelstrom emerged yesterday when Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom suggested in an interview with the Times of London that her status as a mother gives her an advantage over rival Home Secretary Theresa May, who does not have children.

The two women are in a run-off to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning after British voters rejected his advice and chose to leave the European Union. May is considered the front-runner, winning the most votes as Conservative lawmakers whittled down the candidates to two.

Leadsom's explosive remarks have touched off an uproar among Conservative party members who are voting in the run-off.

"I don't really know Theresa very well, but I am sure she will be really, really sad she doesn't have children. So I don't want this to be 'Andrea has got children, Theresa hasn't,' 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," said Leadsom.

"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," added Leadsom.

May, 59, told the Daily Telegraph in an interview published yesterday that she likes to keep her "personal life personal," but said that she and her husband, Philip, have "dealt with" their inability to have children.

"I hope nobody would think that mattered," May said. "I can still empathise, understand people, and care about fairness and opportunity."