Andrea Leadsom on gay marriage, fox hunting and talking to God
Conservative leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom has said she opposed the Government's flagship gay marriage legislation because it angered devout Christians.
In a series of wide-ranging TV interviews, she also said she would try to repeal the ban on fox hunting if she becomes Prime Minister, cast doubt on the HS2 rail project and refused to be drawn on whether she believes God has spoken directly to her.
Speaking to ITV, Ms Leadsom insisted she supported the concept of gay marriage, but not the law which brought it about.
"I believe that the love of same sex couples is every bit as valuable as that of opposite sex couples," she said. "But nevertheless my own view is that marriage in the biblical sense is very clear from the many, many Christians who wrote to me on this subject, in their opinion, can only be between a man and a woman.
"I don't agree with them, but... I would have preferred for civil partnerships to be available to heterosexual and gay couples and for marriage to have remained as a Christian service that was for men and women who wanted to commit in the eyes of God."
Ms Leadsom said she would "absolutely commit" to holding a Commons vote on overturning the ban on fox hunting if she entered Number 10, and also pledged to hold a review of HS2. She said that if it could not be proved that it provided value for taxpayers' money, she would ditch it.
On Channel 4, practising Christian Ms Leadsom was asked if she believed if God had ever spoken directly to her.
She said: "That question is not one that is for open laughing at and poking fun at and I can absolutely feel that that's what you would like to do. So I absolutely am a Christian and I'm very proud of it and it absolutely acts in the background in my desire to have a very honest campaign with high integrity and so on."
She also hit back at those questioning her CV and insisted her claims about her pre-politics career had been “exactly accurate”.
Ms Leadsom, one of three candidates looking to succeed David Cameron, has faced questions in recent days after a former colleague cast doubt on her credentials.
But she told the BBC: “My CV as I’ve presented it is exactly accurate, so there’s nothing to regret."
One of her backers, Bernard Jenkin, has said Ms Leadsom was responsible at one point for “for managing hundreds of people and billions of pounds”.
She insisted that the claim was correct.
“None of my colleagues have misrepresented that I was managing investments on behalf of pensioners and savers; I was not a fund manager,” the Energy Minister said.
“I’ve been very clear: I’ve worked in the markets, I have worked in banking, I have worked in funds management as senior investment officer and head of corporate governance, working very closely with the chief investment officer.”
Elsewhere in the BBC interview, Ms Leadsom said her leadership rival Michael Gove’s team was guilty of “not honourable” tactics in the leadership contest.
After finishing second behind Theresa May in the first round of voting by MPs on who will reach the leadership ballot, Ms Leadsom has seen the third-placed candidate Mr Gove step up his emphasis on experience at the top of Government in a bid to unseat her.
It emerged yesterday that Mr Gove’s campaign chief had begged Ms May's supporters not to give their backing to Ms Leadsom in today’s ballot - because he is "frightened" she could end up Prime Minister.
In a bizarre text message to fellow Tory MPs, Nick Boles said they "must work together" to stop Ms Leadsom being one of the two candidates on the ballot paper being sent to party members.
He said he feared that Conservative activists could choose her over Mrs May "like they did with IDS" - a reference to Iain Duncan Smith's ill-starred time in charge of the party.
She said of the texts: “It’s not honourable...
“It is disappointing and one of the things I would hope to do as PM is to change that from the top by setting an example.”