Former business secretary Andrea Leadsom has said the Brexit referendum result was as good as John Bercow’s face when she reprimanded him for calling her a stupid woman.
Making a personal statement following her departure from the Cabinet, Ms Leadsom continued her ongoing feud with the former speaker, suggesting there was “only one person” whom she “might be tempted” to tell to “F off”.
She also praised Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “the right person to seize the opportunities” that await the UK post-Brexit and congratulated him and fiancee Carrie Symonds on their baby news.
“With support from 200 colleagues, we (Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris and George Eustice) set out the case for EU reform but it soon became clear that that wasn’t on offer and the rest is history,” she told MPs.
“Now this time coincided with my first-ever rebellion against a three-line whip as one of 81 Conservatives to vote for a referendum on EU membership, leading to media speculation that I had told the (then) Chancellor George Osborne, if you’ll forgive me Mr Speaker, to ‘F off’.
“Well, I can assure you that there’s only one person to whom I might be tempted to provide such frank advice, and that wouldn’t include any former or current chancellor and certainly not any current speaker.”
My own part in Brexit was always about doing what I thought was best for the UKAndrea Leadsom
She said: “The result of the EU referendum in June 2016 is right up there with England winning the World Cup for rugby 16 years ago. It’s right up there with the look on John Bercow’s face when I told him to apologise for calling me a stupid woman, and it is a bit behind the happiness of my wedding day.”
Ms Leadsom added: “My own part in Brexit was always about doing what I thought was best for the UK, and whatever has been said about it, my decision to withdraw from the final two was to give the country the urgent certainty that it needed.
“I was sorry to see the resignation of my right honourable friend for Maidenhead (Theresa May). The leadership of our country and our party once again being challenged by the decision on the EU.
“No-one could have worked harder than her, and I feel sure history will judge her kindly.”
Ms Leadsom added that she genuinely believed Mr Johnson was “the right person to seize the opportunities that await us outside the EU” and that it was “an honour” to serve as business secretary in his first cabinet.
She also wished new Business Secretary Alok Sharma “huge success” as COP president when the UK plays host later in the year.
The South Northamptonshire MP announced she would now focus on the issue of early years from the backbenches.
“When the Prime Minister asked me to step aside, he also gave me his word that he will enable me to take forward the early years work and I am delighted that the wheels are in motion,” she said.
“And I want to heartily congratulate him and Carrie for their decision to do their own bit of early years research.”