Member of Parliament Penny Mordaunt has confirmed her candidacy for replacing Liz Truss as prime minister. The House of Commons leader made the announcement in a Friday, October 21st tweet. She is the first to enter the contest for leadership over a battered Tory party—and a nation in similar condition.
Citing colleagues whose support she had been encouraged by, and who desire “a fresh start, a united party, and leadership in the national interest,” she said to be running in order “to unite our country, deliver our pledges, and win the next GE [General Election, scheduled for January 2025 at the latest].”
Mourdant (1973) has known a colourful career before going into politics; it was through her work as a magician’s assistant, performing in hospitals and orphanages in post-Communist Romania, that her interest in politics was kindled, she has admitted.
After graduation, she became head of youth for the Conservative party under Prime Minister John Major. Subsequently, she had brief stints in public relations: communications specialist for the Freight Transport Association and head of broadcasting for the Tory party under William Hague (1997–2001).
In 2010, she became MP for Portsmouth North, an office she still holds. Her ministerial career kicked off in 2014 when she was appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state by Prime Minister David Cameron. The next year, he appointed her minister of state for the armed forces, making her the first woman to hold the post.
In July 2016, following Theresa May’s appointment as prime minister, Mordaunt was appointed minister of state for disabled people, work, and health. She then became the first woman to serve as secretary of state for defence, but was relieved of her duties after 85 days by Boris Johnson when he took over as PM.
Following his recent resignation, she was a candidate in the subsequent leadership contest over the summer, nearly getting in the final two.
In popular imagination, she gained some notoriety through a 2014 appearance in ITV’s celebrity diving show ‘Splash!’
All leadership hopefuls have until 14:00 on Monday to secure the support of 100 MPs. While ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak and former PM Boris Johnson have thus far not announced a run, they are already leading the pack, having received the backing of quite a number of Tory MPs.
Currently, 147 out of 357 Tory MPs have publicly voiced support for their preferred candidate. A new PM is expected to be declared by Friday next week.
The latest tally, which is regularly updated and can be accessed here, stands at:
Rishi Sunak – 83
Boris Johnson – 42
Penny Mordaunt – 21
The Labour Party and other opposition parties question whether the new PM would have a mandate however; they are calling for an immediate general election to take place instead.