In many ways Andrea Leadsom looks like Britain’s Sarah Palin

In many ways Andrea Leadsom looks like Britain’s Sarah Palin

The similarities with the former Alaska Governor are striking argues Keiran Pedley and therefore Theresa May is surely Britain’s next Prime Minister.

Video has emerged this afternoon of an interview with Conservative candidate for Prime Minister Andrea Leadsom and Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam. Although it is not as bad as Sarah Palin’s ‘I can see Russia from my house’ interview with Katie Couric is does rather paint the picture of a candidate that is out of her depth. In addition to referring to Sterling having ‘dropped a bit’, Leadsom also tells Faisal Islam that she would ‘absolutely tell [Putin] that he needs to abide by international law’ in the event of a crisis involving Russia.

And here is a clip of Sarah Palin being interviewed back in 2008 by Katie Couric for comparison.

Many will say the comparison is unfair. Perhaps it is (a little). But there is something in it. Both candidates were plucked from relative obscurity, Leadsom (like Palin) seems quite unprepared for ‘prime time’ and both lead a merry band of Conservative activists for whom ideological purity seems more important than being qualified for the job. The Washington Post has already called this morning’s Leadsom for Leader march, ‘Britain’s most awkward rally’. Although it wasn’t really a ‘march’ by most people’s standards.

Theresa May for Number 10?

However, at the risk of quoting polling in the current climate, the early signs are that the Conservative membership as a whole is overwhelmingly with Theresa May.  A recent poll by YouGov shows May leading Leadsom in a runoff among Conservative members by 63 points to 31. May takes virtually all of the Tory ‘Remainers’ in the membership and splits the Leave vote 49 to 45. The reason seems clear. Overwhelmingly Tory Members cite ‘being a competent Prime Minister’ and ‘uniting the Conservative Party’ as the most important factors in deciding how they will vote. May leads Leadsom comprehensively on both of these measures and many others.

Interestingly, backing Leave in the EU referendum ranks in fifth place among the Tory membership as a factor in their vote and only ranks third among those Tory members that actually voted Leave. With such ground to makeup, rows over inflated CVs, tax returns and a lack of Cabinet experience leave Leadsom with an awful lot to do to be competitive if she does make the final two. It was always sensible to assume a Leave supporter would inherit Number 10 from David Cameron. However, if Leadsom is the candidate it is hard to see how this happens.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see if Conservative MPs go through with sending Andrea Leadsom to the final two once the votes are counted later today.

Keiran Pedley

You can follow Keiran on twitter at @keiranpedley

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