After excited rumours flew around the Conservative party that she was finally getting a promotion, Andrea Leadsom has been confirmed as the new Economic Secretary to the Treasury. She was on the Number 10 policy board, but should have risen much sooner – had she not offended George Osborne by suggesting that he should apologise to Ed Balls for these comments to the Spectator about the Libor scandal. Offending the Chancellor is the political equivalent of getting a black spot from a pirate.
But now Leadsom has the promotion she deserves, having impressed in a number of roles. She co-founded the Fresh Start Project, which visits European capitals making the case for reform of the EU and feeds back to the Foreign Office. She has also been accompanying other backbenchers from across the Commons on Foreign Office visits to European cities. She is one of the best members of the Treasury Select Committee, and has campaigned on the technical but important issue of bank account number portability, which is one of the ways to increase competition in the banking sector. Her third priority after Brussels and banks is babies: she has campaigned on early intervention.
Hers is a lone promotion in this reshuffle that doesn’t involve an Osborne ally rising up: she is the exception that proves the rule in that she’s been a thorn in the Chancellor’s flesh rather than someone he’s sought to promote and champion. It’s also another sign that the leadership feels that old rebellions over Europe are long buried – and that the work Leadsom has done since on European reform has not gone unnoticed.