Penny Mordaunt: Who is Penny Mordaunt, Conservative voting history, and Penny Mordaunt's Brexit stance
The Tory leadership candidate recently said she has what it takes to break the SNP's "yellow wall" and help the Tories take power in Scotland. The trade minister, who is widely tipped as one of the favourites in the contest to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in No 10, made her pitch to Tory members in Scotland on Tuesday.
Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail, she said she would dodge any questions about holding another referendum on Scottish independence, claiming she was "against playing on the SNP's turf".
She also said the party should set the ambition to "beat the nationalists one day" using a "positive vision, unity of purpose and record of delivery".
"We won't beat the SNP by dividing people. We will only beat it with a message that unites the country by focusing on what really matters," she wrote. "And we must set that ambition to defeat the Nationalists one day. I won't pretend it will be easy. But as a member of the Royal Navy, I've got the courage and determination to take on that huge challenge. It is a challenge that must always be led by the Scottish Conservatives, by Douglas Ross and his group of MSPs. But as Prime Minister, I would aim to give our party the platform it needs."
Mordaunt has been tipped as a leading favourite by polling site ConservativeHome. As the leadership race heats up, here’s what you need to know about Penny Mordaunt.
Who is Penny Mordaunt?
Educated at Oaklands Roman Catholic School Academy, Waterlooville, Hampshire and going on to study drama at the Victoryland Theatre School, Mordaunt lost her mother to cancer at the age of 15. She became a magician’s assistant to pay her way through college and discovered her interest in politics while working in orphanages in Romania on her gap year.
After graduating university, she worked in various public sector roles before being selected as the Conservative candidate for Portsmouth North in 2003. However, she was not elected to the House of Commons until May 2010.
Under the coalition government of David Cameron, she served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Decentralisation from 2014 to 2015. After the 2015 general election, Cameron promoted her to Minister of State for the Armed Forces, the first woman to hold the post.
Following Theresa May's appointment as Prime Minister, Mordaunt was appointed Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health. In 2017, following the resignation of Priti Patel, she was appointed Secretary of State for International Development. She also served as Minister for Women and Equalities from 2018 to 2019.
In May 2019, Mordaunt was appointed Secretary of State for Defence, replacing Gavin Williamson, becoming the first woman to hold the post. She served as Defence Secretary for 85 days before being removed from the position by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In the February 2020 reshuffle, she re-entered government as Paymaster General. In the 2021 reshuffle, she was appointed Minister of State for Trade Policy.
Penny Mordaunt’s Conservative voting history
Mordaunt’s voting history is largely in line with Conservative stances, rarely voting against the general shift of the party. Following her announcement about her intentions to run as Tory leadership candidate, journalist Owen Jones accused Mordaunt of "throwing trans people under a bus to advance her own career". This comes after she appeared to negate her 2018 statement that "trans women are women and trans men are men" by insisting on a strictly biological basis for womanhood, in line with rising anti-trans rhetoric in the Conservative party.
She has consistently voted in favour of same-sex marriage and equal gay rights. When it comes to the economy, Mordaunt is largely in favour of higher taxes, particularly on items like alcohol or food items that are high in fat.
Penny Mordaunt's Brexit stance
Mordaunt was part of the Leave campaign, pushing for the UK to leave the European Union. She played a minor role in campaigning for Brexit during the lead up to the referendum.
Additional reporting by PA.
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