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Leadsom camp unfairly traduces May’s negotiating skills

by David Hannay | 04.07.2016

The Conservative leadership contest is showing every sign of picking up where the referendum campaign left off, with unsubstantiated and basically untrue assertions masquerading as facts. Thus on the BBC’s Today programme on 4 July one of Andrea Leadsom campaign’s representatives, replying to a suggestion that Leadsom was a bit short of negotiating experience in the EU (undoubtedly true) suggested that Theresa May was no different (patently false).

Having chaired the House of Lords’ EU sub-committee on Home Affairs between 2010 and 2013 when May was home secretary, I had a ringside seat at some important EU negotiations which she conducted with success. Not only did she regularly attend the frequent meetings of the Justice and Home Affairs Council but she was an influential participant in them. To give only one example, she pushed hard for the enactment of the Passenger Name Recognition Directive, an essential tool in the fight against terrorism, and carried the day in the face of strong resistance from a number of member states and from the European Parliament.

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    Of direct relevance to the challenge a new Prime Minister will face in shaping Britain’s new external relationship with the EU, May also led the negotiations under Protocol 36 of the Lisbon Treaty which gave the UK the right in 2014 to withdraw from all the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) legislation. Rather than following that extreme course, which would have seriously damaged the effectiveness of the fight against international crime, she opted to re-join the 35 most important JHA instruments such as the European Arrest Warrant and Europol while repatriating a swathe of other EU legislation; and she did that in the face of serious barracking from her own back benches and obtained massive majorities in both Houses of Parliament for a policy which was deemed as being in the national interest.

    As one who, as an independent cross bencher, has no direct part in the contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party, I have no desire to join the fray. But I am becoming sick and tired of seeing our political discourse distorted by the peddling of blatant untruths.

    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    One Response to “Leadsom camp unfairly traduces May’s negotiating skills”

    • I normally find it quite easy to think well of powerful women in a man’s world, but not in Mrs Leadsman’s case, somehow. It may be her assumption of cool cleverer- than-thou reasonableness coupled with those unqualified weasel-worded claims – the 60% of ‘rules and regulations’ determined by the EU – or her readiness to attack colleagues and experts, including the Governor of the Bank of England. In her own entirely non-aggressive way, she may be even more divisive than MiGo – the she-wolf in motherly ewe-ish clothing.