Member of Parliament and Warwick graduate Andrea Leadsom visited the University last Thursday 19 January, to speak at an event hosted by Warwick’s Conservative Association (UWCA).
Leadsom, who was a member of UWCA whilst studying for her degree in Political Science, is the current Secretary of State for the department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
During the talk, she spoke about what motivated her to go into politics, how her career had developed and the main roles involved in her current position in DEFRA. She also discussed her views on the EU and expressed optimism for the future of Brexit.
Her governmental career began in 2010 when she was first elected into the House of Commons as a Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire.
She held a number of ministerial roles before gaining prominence as a member of the Leave Campaign during last year’s EU referendum.
During the talk last Thursday Leadsom stated that leaving the EU was the: “best thing” the country could have done.
She argued the EU’s weaknesses were, among others, restrictive bureaucracy, an inability to negotiate strong trade deals and the challenges posed by free movement of people.
It’s great that (Leadsom) has remembered her roots at Warwick and in UWCA.
University of Warwick Conservative Association
She was optimistic that the EU has a clear incentive to make a “good deal” with Britain, as she believes this to be just as much in their interest as it is in ours.
Leadsom also expressed excitement about her unique position as DEFRA secretary following Brexit which would likely mean the end of common EU agriculture and fisheries legislation, giving her the rare prospect of a “blank slate” to rewrite a whole department’s legislation.
She praised Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to Brexit so far, arguing that in spite of criticism, the government does have a plan for moving forward.
Upon David Cameron’s resignation in June last year, Leadsom initially ran against May to replace him as Conservative Party leader and therefore Prime minister.
She withdrew after the second round of voting, a decision which she explained on Thursday was motivated by May’s likelihood to win and her contention that the country was in need of certainty after Brexit and not a further political campaign.
Her talk also discussed how pressing issues of her childhood, such as the Cold War fear of nuclear attack and the domestic crisis due to widespread union strikes, motivated her to become an MP when she was as young as 13.
Members of Warwick Conservatives were encouraged by Leadsom to consider a career in governance as more young Conservatives are needed.
She said the motivating factor behind the job is that despite it being hard work it is extremely rewarding and interesting but that you should only go down this path if you, “really want to make the world a better place.”
Leadsom finished her talk by saying: “we have a great team right now in government and I’m so delighted to be part of it.”
UWCA commented before the event: “We are delighted to host Andrea Leadsom this week. She brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge of British Politics. It’s great that she has remembered her roots at Warwick and in UWCA and we are thoroughly looking forward to seeing her on Thursday”.