Andrea Leadsom apologises to Theresa May over motherhood remark

image copyrightAP
image caption"I was pressed to say how my children had formed my views. I didn't want it to be used as an issue," Mrs Leadsom said.

Andrea Leadsom has apologised to Theresa May after suggesting being a mother made her a better candidate for prime minister.

The energy minister told the Daily Telegraph: "I've already said to Theresa how very sorry I am for any hurt I have caused."

The row began after Mrs Leadsom told the Times being a mum meant she had "a very real stake" in Britain's future.

Mrs Leadsom later sent Mrs May a text of apology, the BBC understands.

Aides to Mrs May say the home secretary was "grateful" for the message and texted her thanks.

They say Mrs May always believed Mrs Leadsom had not meant to cause any offence.

In the Times, Mrs Leadsom had discussed her bid to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore the UK's next prime minister.

She said Mrs May, the home secretary and Mrs Leadsom's rival, who has no children - "possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people.

"But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be part of what happens next".

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image captionTheresa May is competing with Mrs Leadsom to become the next leader of the Conservative Party

Mrs Leadsom told the Daily Telegraph motherhood should not play a part in the Conservative leadership campaign and added that she deeply regretted "that anyone has got the impression that I think otherwise".

She went on to say the Times article "said completely the opposite of what I said and believe" and that the criticism she faced since left her feeling "under attack, under enormous pressure - it has been shattering".

"I was pressed to say how my children had formed my views. I didn't want it to be used as an issue," she said.

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media captionLeadsom says being mum gives her a 'stake in future of UK'

Among those who had criticised Mrs Leadsom over her original comments were business minister Anna Soubry, who said her comments meant she was "not PM material", while Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said there was a "gulf in class" between the two candidates.

Senior MP Sir Alan Duncan said Mrs Leadsom's remarks were "vile".

However, Mrs Leadsom's key supporter Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, has said she is facing a "black-ops" campaign by MPs who want to "denigrate her reputation".

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain on Monday: "I was talking about the wider operation here, which is during the course of the last week we have seen the most remarkable and unprecedented attempts to cast Andrea Leadsom in the most ridiculous ways."

He also said Mrs Leadsom was "angry" over the coverage of her motherhood comments and that her apology to Mrs May was "heartfelt".

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