Andrea Leadsom has faced a furious backlash from MPs in her own party over disputed comments suggesting being a mother gave her an advantage over leadership rival Theresa May.
In an interview with the Times, Leadsom backed her own prime ministerial credentials by talking about her children and seemingly claiming that being a mother made her a better candidate than Theresa May.
Despite Leadsom slamming the way her comment’s were presented, fellow MPs have condemned Leadsom’s apparent views.
Leader of the Conservatives in Scotlnd, Ruth Davidson tweeted: “I am childless. I have nieces and nephews. I believe I – like everyone else – have a very real stake in our country.”
MP for Rutland and Melton, Sir Alan Duncan tweeted: “I’m in a civil partnership. No children, but ten nieces and nephews. Do I not have a stake in the future of the country? Vile.”
Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said: “I think what makes you qualified to be prime minister is having long experience, a clear understanding of the big issues facing this country and a proven track record of being robust in the face of the many pressures (those) at the very front line of politics face all the time.
“Most of my colleagues do not know Andrea Leadsom, have never heard of Andrea Leadsom. 
“Many of them do know Theresa May from the joint meetings of interior ministers and foreign ministers we have had in response to dealing with counter-terrorism issues in the European Union. She is a known quantity and her reputation goes before her.”
Hammond added: “Theresa May has been clear from the beginning that she wants this to be a clean campaign, fought on the issues, not around personalities but around capabilities and around policies and approach to the future.
“She has signed the clean campaign pledge. I would urge Leadsom to sign the clean campaign pledge and let’s make sure the rest of this campaign is a clean campaign openly fought on the issues.
“I am clear from the people I have spoken to – party members – they don’t want to witness a slanging match, they don’t want to see any more backstabbing, they want to see a clean debate.”
In the interview, Leadsom said  May “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”.
The energy minister said: “Genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.”
Asked to contrast herself with May, she said: “I see myself as one, an optimist, and two, a member of a huge family and that’s important to me. My kids are a huge part of my life.”
The Times have stood by what was reported, publishing a full transcript of the interview.
Speaking outside her home in Northamptonshire, Andrea Leadsom said: “I want to be crystal clear that everyone has an equal stake in the future of our country, that is what I believe.
“Over the course of a lengthy interview I was repeatedly asked about my children and I repeatedly made it clear that I did not want this to be a feature of the campaign.
“I am disgusted at the way this has been presented.
“I want to be crystal clear that everyone has an equal stake in our society and the future of our country. That is what I believe and it is what I have always believed.
“I have repeated my instructions to my campaign team that this campaign must at all times be principled and honourable.”