Andrea Leadsom takes side-swipe at Conservative leadership rival Theresa May

Helen Cahill
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Would-be Tory leader Andrea Leadsom appears to have taken a side-swipe at frontrunner Theresa May as she tries to consolidate her position as the pro-Brexit candidate in the Conservative leadership race.

Leadsom has said the Conservative premiership must be a supporter of Brexit, not someone "who is reluctantly following the wishes of the people".

The thinly-veiled attack on May - who was a very quiet Remain campaigner - comes after a Sky News poll showed Leadsom has more support among Conservative MPs than fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove.

When asked by the Daily Telegraph if the Conservatives should be lead by a Brexit supporter, Leadsom said: "I certainly think [so] because I've been absolutely closely involved and very passionate about the opportunities from Brexit.

"I think it's very difficult for somebody who doesn't agree with that, who is reluctantly following the wishes of the people. I think it's quite hard for them to really see the opportunities.

"I genuinely believe that if we want to make a go of it then we need somebody who believes in it."

The sideways jab from Leadsom comes after Gove knifed fellow Leave campaigner Boris Johnson in the front this week.

Johnson was forced to abandon any leadership bid he was considering on Thursday when Gove announced he would run because "Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead."

May subsequently emerged as the bookie's favourite to win, and Gove has failed to gain any real momentum in the campaign so far. According to Sky News, 20 MPs back Leadsom, while only 18 intend to go for Gove.