Andrea Leadsom has apologised to Theresa May after she was accused of 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 broke out after Mrs Leadsom said having children meant she had “a very real stake” in Britain’s future.
She later said having children had “no bearing on the ability to be PM”.
Mrs Leadsom made her original comments during an interview in the Times, in which she discussed her bid to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore the UK’s next prime minister.
The article quoted Mrs Leadsom as saying Mrs May, the home secretary who is her opponent in the leadership race, “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”.
As part of her apology, Mrs Leadsom has said motherhood should not play a part in the Tory leadership campaign and adds that she deeply regrets “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 also said.
Among those criticising Mrs Leadsom 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 the energy minister’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”.
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