Express & Star

Penny Mordaunt visited Wolverhampton yesterday - the response she got was surprising

A pensioner ducks for cover as Mike Newton and Penny Mordaunt unsheath a giant sword.

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Penny Mourdant with candidate Mike Newton.

"As a former army reserve officer, I brought my sword along today," says Mr Newton. "But Penny has already criticised me because it's dirty."

Mrs Mordaunt, probably best known to those who don't take a deep interest in politics for carrying the sword at the King's coronation, is chatting to locals at the Cup of Joy cafe in Penn, Wolverhampton. She then moves on to the aptly named Penny's Cafe, about a mile up the road, and drops in for a chat at the garden supplies shop next door, where she admires the lemon trees on sale. After a spot of door-to-door canvassing, it's off to Ludlow. Where presumably more coffee will be consumed.

"I think she is our next prime minister," says the owner of a neighbouring chip shop, who has nipped out to see what the commotion is all about. John Holt, who keeps Coven Heath plant supplies, is even more effusive in his praise.

Penny Mourdant with John William Holt from Coven Heath Nursery Shop.

But these comments, to use a rather lazy pun, have become something of a double-edged sword for the Leader of the House of Commons. Only last month, reports surfaced that Tory rebels were planning to oust Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister, and instil Mrs Mordaunt in his place. She insists such speculation is unhelpful, and that the Prime Minister has her full support.

"I think the public feel the same way that we do about those kind of stories, so I hope you're not going to write one," she gently scolds me.

"These things are, I think, a distraction, our jobs are here to get things to work for people, and that's what we are doing, we're getting on with it, and I would encourage everyone to get on with the job."

Penny Mourdant with candidate Mike Newton.