The trade secretary cemented her position as the front runner in the party’s leadership race after a second round of voting by MPs yesterday.
But on a day of exceptional blue-on-blue attacks, Miss Mordaunt was arrested for her reign and her alleged “woke up‘ views.
Lord Frost, former Brexit Minister, said he would refuse to work under her if she wins, as he has “serious concerns” about her being up to the task.
Treasury Secretary Simon Clarke argued it would “say” that Cabinet ministers “do not support” Miss Mordaunt.
Trade Secretary Penny Mordaunt cemented her position as front runner in the race for leadership of the party after a second round of voting by MPs yesterday
Penny Mordaunt alongside Lord Frost at the first meeting of the Partnership Council, which oversees the UK and EU’s implementation, application and interpretation of the trade agreement with the EU
Penny Mordaunt is a Navy reservist and has previously advocated for more rights for the transgender community
And former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned that it “has risen without a trace and there are many questions to be asked”.
It comes as:
- Attorney General Suella Braverman was eliminated on the second ballot, sources say she would now support Secretary of State Liz Truss;
- Lord Frost prepared to back Miss Truss and urged Tory MPs on the party’s right to back her or risk being sidelined.
- Miss Mordaunt has been urged to ‘make clear’ her views on transgender issues after being accused of changing her stance;
- Government travel logs showed the trade secretary made no international trips for the first three months of 2022, adding weight to rivals’ “part-time penny” stumbles;
- Conservative MPs said they believed Miss Mordaunt would appoint Andrea Leadsom Chancellor when she came to Downing Street;
- A millionaire supporter of Miss Mordaunt, who co-wrote a book with her, “liked” a tweet about some Conservative members being “sick, perverted and bigoted”;
- The Trade Secretary’s claims about her experience as a Royal Naval reservist have been questioned by senior officers;
- Former Cabinet Secretary David Davis said Miss Mordaunt was the victim of “black ops” by political rivals;
- The five remaining candidates will take part in the first live TV debate tonight.
Miss Mordaunt came second in the vote yesterday, securing the support of 83 MPs, leaving her behind Rishi Sunak at 101 but ahead of the more experienced Miss Truss at 64.
In a sign of the momentum behind her campaign, Miss Mordaunt received the most votes, up 16 from the previous day, while Miss Truss gained 14 and Mr Sunak received an additional 13.
Mordaunt in the free press series
Penny Mordaunt’s support for a free press was questioned last night after it emerged she had voted to restrict the industry.
2012 documents from the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunction, of which she was a member, show that she supported Ofcom’s data breach decision.
She also backed a new “Privacy Statute” and the belief that Parliament should “strike the balance between privacy and freedom of expression”. Even uncompromising Labor MPs voted against.
Newspapers are deeply concerned about political interference that threatens a free press.
Miss Mordaunt, one of the favorites to win the Tory leadership race, backed the 2011 Leveson Inquiry which recommended a new statutory press regulator.
Miss Mordaunt’s representative did not answer.
Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch received 49 votes, while former army officer Tom Tugendhat received 32.
Ms. Braverman was eliminated after receiving 27 votes and finishing last.
The delicately balanced competition sets the stage for an extraordinary weekend of horse-trading and hostile briefings ahead of MPs’ next vote on Monday.
Voting continues, eliminating one candidate at a time, until only two remain.
Ms Braverman made it clear last night that she would not support Miss Mordaunt, who has criticized her on trans rights issues and warned she is not an “authentic Brexiteer”.
She accused the leadership hopeful of not “standing up for women” when she refused to use the words “wife” or “mother” in laws that allowed her to take maternity leave from her role as attorney general.
Lord Frost launched a scathing attack on Miss Mordaunt, who was his deputy in Brexit talks with the EU.
In a TV interview, Lord Frost said she lacked an understanding of details, was unwilling to deliver tough messages to Brussels and had to ask Boris Johnson to replace her.
Asked about Miss Mordaunt’s chances, Lord Frost told Talk TV he was “surprised” that she was even in the running for the lead.
The Tory colleague, formerly a close ally of Mr Johnson, said that during her time as his deputy she “wasn’t fully accountable, she wasn’t always visible. Sometimes I didn’t even know where she was.
He added: “If you’re a Prime Minister, you have to be able to take responsibility, you have to be able to run the machine, you have to be able to make difficult decisions and deliver difficult messages .
“Based on what I’ve seen, I’m afraid I would have serious doubts.”
Asked if Brexit was safe in Miss Mordaunt’s hands, Lord Frost said: “I would worry, based on what I’ve seen, we wouldn’t necessarily get that from Penny.”
A source from Miss Mordaunt’s campaign last night insisted she had “nothing but respect for Lord Frost”.
But the source added: “Penny will always fight for Brexit and always has.”
Miss Truss did not endorse Lord Frost’s comments yesterday – but neither did she deny them, simply saying she would not make any “snide remarks”.
Former Cabinet Secretary Mr Davis, a Miss Mordaunt supporter, said: ‘I’ve actually seen Penny in action.
“The day we had the big showdown at Checkers [in July 2018]which led to my resignation (and) forever changed the history of the kingdom, she was the best actress.
With around 20 cabinet ministers backing Theresa May, she stepped in, bravely defended the Brexit cause and put forward what I think are the best arguments of the day.”