Penny Mordaunt’s biggest energy and largest weak spot are one and the identical: Nobody actually is aware of who she is.
As the only rival to Rishi Sunak within the closing phases of the race to succeed Liz Truss as British prime minister, that’s about to vary.
Being a comparatively unknown lawmaker in Britain’s ruling Conservative Celebration has its benefits. Whereas different members of parliament have struggled to distance themselves from the failure of earlier governments, Mordaunt has been in a position to paint herself as one thing of an outsider.
However the fact is that Mordaunt, an MP since 2010, held quite a few ministerial positions earlier than being elevated to protection secretary within the final, painful few months of Theresa Might’s authorities.
Operating on the slogan PM4PM in the course of the Conservative management marketing campaign this summer season, Mordaunt promised a return to conventional Tory values: Low taxes, a small state, particular person duty.
It almost proved a profitable ticket. She secured 105 votes from MPs – solely eight fewer than Liz Truss, who went on to win – however this wasn’t sufficient for her to be put earlier than the celebration members within the closing vote.
If Mordaunt had made it to that stage, she might need been anticipated to carry out effectively. A darling of the Tory grassroots, her army background – she is a Royal Navy reservist – and references to Margaret Thatcher have performed effectively amongst celebration members.
In her earlier marketing campaign video, Mordaunt recalled watching a naval job pressure sail from her dwelling city of Portsmouth, the place she is now the MP, to the Falklands – the South Atlantic islands that Thatcher went to battle with Argentina to reclaim. “It taught me that my nation stands as much as bullies,” she stated.
Mordaunt has been criticized prior to now for her ideological flexibility. On the current Conservative Celebration convention, she known as Truss’ insurance policies “nice.” Given the implosion of “Trussonomics,” she is going to most likely must revise her place on that.
She additionally revised her ideas on one other contentious concern. When she was minister for girls and equalities, Mordaunt took a pro-transgender stance, asserting that “trans males are males, trans girls are girls.”
However, below stress from the extra socially conservative members of her celebration, she deserted this stance over the last management election, saying a trans girl couldn’t be thought of a “organic girl” like herself.
These vacillations have led some to query whether or not Mordaunt has an underlying political philosophy – or whether or not she is merely a savvy politician along with her eyes on Quantity 10.