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Andrea Leadsom: 'I'm absolutely sure I've got enough MPs to get through to first round of Tory leadership race'

Andrea Leadsom has insisted she's gained enough nominations to secure her place in the first round of the forthcoming Tory leadership race and says this time around is unlike her failed bid in 2016.

Despite describing that race as "shattering", the MP, who cited her a lack of support as her reason for dropping out, says she's learned to be prepared and this time is "entirely different".

She refused to confirm who her eight nominations had come from, but claimed to have "good support amongst colleagues" and when pressed on whether she was "absolutely sure" of them, she repeatedly responded: "Yes".

She said: "Theresa May rightly had a huge amount of support then, which is why I withdrew, because I didn't want to put the country through a nine week campaign at such a difficult time."

She says this time is different because "we've got a huge number of leadership candidates in the race who have very differing views about Brexit" and claimed hers the "only workable" option.

In a wide-ranging, open and personal interview with Political Correspondent Paul Brand on the ITV News podcast Acting Prime Minister, she also spoke of the toughest period of her life and outlined her plan for Brexit.

Theresa May, pictured with Justin Trudeau (L) and Donald Trump, has been doing her best to enjoy her final days of premiership. Credit: PA

The former Leader of the House of Commons, who resigned in protest at Theresa May's Brexit deal, says her "very clearly set out" alternative plan, is the only way out of the current impasse.

She told Paul Brand that step one of her plan is "to introduce a second reading of a citizen's rights bill in the Commons, something that would protect UK and EU citizens."

"Step two is to ramp up preparations for no deal because we have to be ready for the end of October, come what may," she said.

"Secondly in step two I would be preparing for a longer-term-virtual-border in Northern Ireland, and thirdly I'd be preparing for a temporary short term free trade agreement along the lines of the EU-Japan free trade agreement".

The third part of her plan "is to lead a delegation during August of ministers to go and meet with key allies in the EU 27 - so Varadkar in the Republic of Ireland, Macron, Merkel, the French and German leaders".

Ms Leadsom says her Brexit plan would involve meeting EU allies including Ireland's Leo Varadkar(L), France's Emmanuel Macron (C) and Germany's Angela Merkel. Credit: AP

She said those meetings would culminate "with a summit in September" where the newly "proposed but not yet confirmed EU commissioners" will be invited.

At that summit she says she hopes to "agree, first of all, that there will be no extension beyond October and secondly the measures that we all agree to sign up to so that we have a managed exit."

Asked if she is willing to back no deal even if people would lose their jobs, she said: "You have to be, in any negotiation have to be prepared to walk away."

She said "there will be winners and losers" in the event of a no deal Brexit and "there will be some short term disruption" and but insisted she is "not an advocate of no deal".

Paul Brand quizzed Ms Leadsom on various topics, including her Brexit plan. Credit: ITV News

She added: "The democratic will of the people is to leave the European Union and I would not under any circumstances advocate either trying to make people change their minds, have a second referendum or revoke that decision."

The former minister also revealed how a difficult period in her life shaped her political views and future Parliamentary career.

She described having "quite an unusual childhood" after her parents split up when she was four, which left her single mother struggling to look after three children with no support.

She says that experience drives her "to believe that the state should always provide a strong safety net to help people".

But watching her mother and step-father's "hard work and determination" while working in a furniture shop gave her a "desire to see the world a better place and to help people to become the best that they can be".

The prime ministerial hopeful spoke to ITV News at Silverstone Race Course. Credit: ITV News

She hopes those qualities will boost her appeal to the Tory membership and propel her to the top job in the country.

She claims if she does become prime minister she would be much more open than her predecessor.

"For me as prime minister, one of the key things I would want to be doing is to be having a very regular phone in, so that people can actually speak to their prime minister, being much more accessible," she said.

Despite claiming that "communication is so important" she said unequivocally she would not reach out to Nigel Farage of the Brexit Party.

She did say, however, that when considering negotiations with the EU she would talk to all political parties "but no more with the Brexit Party than with any other".

Catch up with past episodes of Acting Prime Minister:

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