Penny Mordaunt hits out at the EU over Northern Ireland
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The Trade Minister has attracted whispers of a potential leadership challenge, and speculation over whether she could be a challenger for the likes of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. But her chances have been dismissed by a political commentator who believes her track record is tarnished by the failures of Theresa May’s government.
Joseph Robertson, director of the Orthodox Conservative Group think tank, told Express.co.uk she has become a “reverse Liz Truss” in the public consciousness.
He said: “Mordaunt is something of a known quantity with her support for Brexit and is therefore attracting some interest in the conversation surrounding viable back-bench candidates.
“However, Brexit loyalists will forever associate her with the failed May cabinet and will remember her disappointing Pizza Club meetings with Leadsom, Gove and other Brexit hardliners, which despite creating a stir, resulted in very little actual change.
“To many, she now represents something of a reverse Liz Truss.”
Mr Robertson previously described a transformation journey for the Foreign Secretary, modeled on the path of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to create a “new character” for Truss.
He added: “She’s trying to display a patriotic alternative to the voter base that might cater for that Brexit majority and make them think that she’s the new Thatcher figure the party needs.”
He continued: “This is something that is going to bring her into the public limelight in a new way, and create a new level of spin for her.”
He described this would be “similar to the way that Johnson got on board with the Brexit agenda and reinvented himself from being a metropolitan elite that was very London-based to somebody who could connect with the rest of the country.
“So for her, I think that’s what it is – it’s an image makeover with a tilt at the leadership in mind.”
This adaptation for political climbing is not something Penny Mordaunt has successfully attempted in the style of Truss, Mr Robertson said.
He said of Mordaunt: “She is seen as a voice which was relevant due to her vote for leave and is now tired and metropolitan.
“While Truss is seeking to rebrand into something more right-leaning, Mordaunt appears to be merging into the metropolitan agenda and most would say she has the same Liberal Democrat tendencies that have led the Tory Party further from its conservative voter base.
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“She is tainted by association with the weak leadership of May and has her own history of indecisiveness and inability to push the issue.
“That will cost her with the membership.”
Tentative support for a potential leadership bid has been expressed by certain backbench MPs who believe she could be a surprise hit in a leadership battle, should Boris Johnson step down.
A Tory Party source told PoliticsHome: “Boris is inherently divisive to one side of the party, as was May.”
They added: “They believe she’s someone who can be a more unifying figure like David Cameron was.”
In a December poll carried out by ConservativeHome, Ms Mordaunt ranked as the third-most-popular choice of Tory party members to take the reigns from Mr Johnson, after Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
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