‘I am the candidate Labour fear the most’: Penny Mordaunt launches leadership ...
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Tories are battling it out for the chance to lead the party and the country.

There are five people left in the running after Suella Braverman was knocked out during the second round of voting this week. The third round of voting takes place on Monday 18th July.

In the second round, Rishi Sunak won 101 votes, Penny Mordaunt came second with 83 votes, and Liz Truss came third with 64.

Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch came fourth with 49 votes and foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Tugendhat came fifth on 32.

So it looks like Mordaunt is one of the serious contenders who could well become the next prime minister. If she did, what would her Britain look like?

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Here is everything we know about the MP:

Political background

Penny Mordaunt repeatedly says 'c**k' in 2013 Commons speech after losing Navy ... House of Commons

Mordaunt became MP for Portsmouth North in 2010.

She first joined the cabinet under David Cameron in 2014 before becoming the first female minister of state for the armed forces in 2015.

Under Theresa May, she held a number of ministerial roles: Secretary of State for International Development (2017), Minister for Women and Equalities (2018) and Secretary of State for Defence (2019).

When Boris Johnson was elected in December 2019, Mordaunt briefly left government, before returning in a cabinet reshuffle in February 2020 and is now a trade minister.

But before joining parliament, she worked in numerous roles including as a magician's assistant, a press officer for William Hague when he was leader of the Tories, a director for Diabetes UK, and she is also a Royal Navy reservist.

In 2014 she appeared on ITV show Splash!, when she joined celebrities to be trained in diving by Olympian Tom Daley. She was the ninth contestant out of 20 to be eliminated from the programme.

Views

Mordaunt is widely seen as a centrist candidate. "’I'm the candidate that Labour fear the most – and they’re right to," she told reporters during her leadership campaign launch. "We have a mandate and a big majority...I think the British people want us to deliver on that now."

Economy wise, the trade minister has committed herself to a 50 per cent cut in VAT on fuel to help ease the cost-of-living crisis.

As for defence, she has promised to honour the UK's Nato commitment of spending 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence by 2030.

Mordaunt backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

And she has said she will retain the Rwanda migrant plan if she becomes PM, fleshing out her views on migration.

Meanwhile, her stance on social issues appears more confusing. She has previously spoken out in favour of trans rights and replaced the word "woman" with "pregnant person" in a bill last year.

But recently, she wrote on Twitter: “I am biologically a woman. If I have a hysterectomy or mastectomy, I am still a woman. And I am legally a woman.

“Some people born male and who have been through the gender recognition process are also legally female. That DOES NOT mean they are biological women, like me.”

Scandals

During the Brexit referendum, Mordaunt created issues when she told the BBC the UK could not veto Turkey joining the European Union.

An hour later, David Cameron told ITV that was "absolutely wrong".

Then there was her literal cock-up in parliament when she lost a bet with fellow Navy Reservists and had to say “cock” six times during a speech in the House of Commons. She did so by talking about poultry and Kate Hoey said she was "trivialising" parliament but others found it quite amusing.

And her leadership launch got off to a sticky start because her campaign video featured an unfortunate cameo from Oscar Pistorius, and Paralympian, Johnnie Peacock who asked her to remove him from the video. And a Labour group even said she copied their logo.

Time will tell if she becomes our next prime minister.

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