What it’s like being Andrea Leadsom’s son right now
‘Once you’ve been through that, you can get through anything’
I had the chance to have a chat with Freddie, son of Andrea Leadsom. After his mother’s involvement with the Leave campaign, as well as her leadership campaign which was cut short, he and his family have had a lot going on.
I asked him about press manipulation, family life and being targeted by journalists. Here’s what he had to say.
Hi, Freddie. It’s great to hear from you, we’re all excited to hear what you’ve been up to in the midst of all this political turmoil. How are you feeling about the whole situation?
Well, it’s a very exciting time in politics. The things that have happened to my mum show a lot about modern politics and about our family. We thought it was a good idea for her to run, after a period of very high pressure things have really settled since the drop-out.
How did your friends and family react?
Everyone felt the weight of the press, having to read about her in the paper, the family was shocked. After the leave campaign there was a lot of pressure, we weren’t used to the bad press. Mum normally gives opinions and is listened to, suddenly she was subject to a lot of media manipulation. We all had to be supportive and careful that she wasn’t pushed into the wrong thing by the media.
Do you think your mother would have been a good prime minister?
Absolutely. It was a real shame she had to drop out, it was partly because of the press but mainly for professional reasons. The nine week campaign was just too long: the country needed a prime minister now in order for there to be any governmental stability. We were all disappointed in David Cameron for resigning, it wasn’t the right decision for the country.
It was reported recently that Andrea suggested being a mother made her a better candidate for prime minister. How was she misrepresented?
It was a funny time for it to happen and it took a lot of time to sink in. We knew what the headline would be, we were told beforehand. We had a very late night figuring out what we could do to resolve it, speaking to a lot of people about the legality of the story. Only a short snippet of the transcript was used and we’re currently fighting for the rest of it. I was angry that they were allowed to get away with it, and angry at the politicians I knew who believed it. They used it as an excuse not to back mum. My brother and sister, who is only 12 years old, were very disappointed.
It must have been hard for your sister, it’s a lot for a 12-year-old to deal with.
She’s a very together girl. She wanted to give her mum lots of support. My brother and I were around at the time, which was good as she adopts our political views and we were able to help her through the process. Our aunts and uncles wanted to make it seem too difficult for her, which was not the case.
What ran through your head when you realised you might be living at 10 Downing Street?
Well, it wasn’t really like that. We knew she would get a big job after the success of the leave campaign, it wasn’t much of a shock, and many of the major governmental positions come with a house. My brother and I wouldn’t have lived there, we have our own things going on, we would have stayed in the family home. Although I suppose we would have had rooms at number 10 where we could stay.
You must have concerns about security for your family and the press continuing to ask questions.
We have all developed a mindset of what to say to people. There’s no such thing as a leadership campaign without press, so it was expected. Mum has been gearing up for something like this for the last six years so it’s not that new, and we know there’s still a long way to go.
What was your involvement in Brexit and your mother’s leadership campaign?
I posted a lot on Facebook to get the word out, sparking debate and making a point among people I know. It’s obviously an interest, but my main role is to support mum. I have more time than my dad and siblings so I’ve been there for her constantly, getting her lunch and things. My role in the campaign is purely personal.
What are your thoughts on the way the press manipulated your mother?
It was no mistake. The press literally came out and said “sorry, we’re backing Theresa May”. Rachel Sylvester timed her story on my mum so it would coincide with positive press about Theresa May, it was all set up. She played dirty and it got readers. I think she may have stepped the mark.
Do you have any final comments you want to add? Anything you want people to know about your family?
It’s a really odd time, personally and professionally. I mean, it’s not a shock, but it will take a while for it to all die down. That article had a huge impact on our family, but it has taught us not to be so naive in the future. Our family is so much stronger now, once you’ve been through that, you can get through anything.