May said she was “sorry” to receive Leadsom’s resignation letter, writing in reply that she was “grateful for the support you have given over the last three years” in working to deliver Brexit.
Thanking Leadsom for her work, May said she disagreed with the assessment Leadsom gave about the government’s approach now.
May wrote: “I do not agree with you that the deal which we have negotiated with the European Union means that the United Kingdom will not become a sovereign country.
“If the deal is passed, the UK will leave the European Union. We will leave its Common Agricultural Policy and its Common Fisheries Policy.
“We will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and make our own laws in Westminster and our devolved parliaments.
“We will stop sending vast annual sums of taxpayers’ money to the EU, and spend it on our priorities instead – such as our National Health Service and our children’s schools.”
Mrs May said she agreed that a second referendum would be divisive, but said the Government was not proposing to hold one.
She wrote: “I continue to believe that the arguments against a second referendum are strong and compelling, and will continue to oppose one.”
The PM said she also did not recognise what Mrs Leadsom said about decision-making in Government.
“Indeed, through your own work chairing the Parliamentary Business and Legislation committee of Cabinet, you have been an important part of ensuring that Brexit-related legislative proposals are properly scrutinised, and the whole Cabinet have listened to the assessments you have given at Cabinet meetings,” Mrs May said.
“I have valued the frank and productive discussions we have had over the last three years.
“As you say, there are important elections tomorrow, and many Conservatives are working in a challenging environment to support our excellent candidates.
“I am sorry to lose someone of your passion, drive and sincerity from HM Government in this way.”