Tim Loughton, Conservative MP and campaign manager for Andrea Leadsom, has accused journalists of undermining the public's trust in politics following the one-time leadership hopeful's choice to remove herself from the race.
Writing a lengthy statement on her decision to withdraw, Loughton said: "Throughout our short campaign we have made it clear that we should be relentlessly focussed on the positive case for electing Andrea as Leader without the need to undermine the qualities of her opponents. Despite an onslaught of often very personal attacks from colleagues and journalists we have never deviated from that goal."
He also accused Tory rivals of running a campaign against Leadsom that put "smear above respect," thanks to a series of "personal attacks."
"It is absolutely not the job of media commentators to ‘big up’ politicians whether in this leadership contest or elsewhere in politics. But neither should it be their compulsion constantly to try to trip them up," he continued.
"Using spin and underhand tactics against decent people whose prime motivation is to serve has for too long undermined the confidence of the public in our politics."
Leadsom had come under fire from reporters and Twitter users earlier this week after the Times published an article asserting that Leadsom had suggested in her own words that she would make a better prime minister because she was a mother and May was not. She apologised for the comments this morning.
Now that Leadsom has pulled out of the contest, Theresa May is poised to become the UK's next prime minister. Leadsom said she was withdrawing in the "interests of the country" because she didn't have "sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government" if she were to win the leadership bid.
Leadsom's dramatic exit took place at the same time as Labour MP Angela Eagle announced her intention to stand as a challenger to current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after receiving the required number of nominations from her party.
— Conor McNally (@conor_mcnally) July 11, 2016
Several BBC journalists, along with ITV's Robert Peston and Channel 4's Michael Crick looked to have left Eagle's press conference to cover the Conservative race instead.
.@angelaeagle very sorry to run away from your launch. You will understand why. Don't think it was @andrealeadsom deliberately upstaging you — Robert Peston (@Peston) July 11, 2016
Peston tweeted Eagle to apologise for his hasty departure.