U.K. Conservative Party leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom said she wanted negotiations with the European Union to be kept as short as possible as she launched her leadership campaign Monday in the contest that will decide Britain’s next prime minister.
Ms. Leadsom, among the most prominent politicians who campaigned for the U.K. to leave the EU alongside Justice Secretary Michael Gove and former London Mayor Boris Johnson, is one of five Conservative lawmakers competing to replace David Cameron. In the wake of his defeat in the June 23 referendum on continued EU membership, Mr. Cameron said he would resign in the next couple of months.
Speaking Monday, Ms. Leadsom sought to set herself apart from other candidates who have said the U.K. should determine its negotiating position before formally triggering the process that will take it out of the bloc, known as Article 50.
“Neither we nor our European friends need prolonged uncertainty, and not everything needs to be negotiated before Article 50 is triggered and the exit process is concluded,” said Ms. Leadsom, a minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, at her campaign launch in London.
Among the other four candidates competing for the top job are Home Secretary Theresa May, who supported Mr. Cameron’s pro-EU stance during the referendum campaign and anti-EU campaigner Mr. Gove. The other two are Stephen Crabb, the work and pensions minister, and former defense minister Liam Fox.
From there, the party membership of roughly 150,000 people will vote in a postal ballot by Sept. 9 on which of the two candidates they think should be the party’s leader, and the winner will become prime minister, succeeding Mr. Cameron, shortly thereafter.
Ms. May, who is currently seen as the leading contender, received backing from Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. In an article published in the Telegraph newspaper on Sunday, Mr. Hammond said Ms. May has the qualities and the character to lead and unite the country and to negotiate the best deal for Britain with the EU, with her “quietly determined, down-to-earth style.”
Ms. Leadsom, like the other candidates, promised that the results of the EU referendum would be final, and she added that the U.K. would become “the greatest on earth” outside the EU. Like the other top contenders to replace Mr. Cameron, Ms. Leadsom said she didn’t think the U.K. should have another general election before the next already scheduled for 2020.
Ms. Leadsom, who worked in the banking and finance industry for 25 years before joining Parliament, also said there were too many people who had become rich on the back of poor performance and poor business practices and that the government needed to take action against this, without specifying how.