Mordaunt's opponents slammed over 'fresh start' claims

Penny Mordaunt’s Tory leadership opponents have been slammed for claiming to offer a “fresh start” despite having served in Boris Johnson’s government.

Penny Mordaunt at the launch of her campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister
Penny Mordaunt at the launch of her campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister

In an apparent swipe at the likes of Rishi Sunak, Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant said some candidates were “tainted” by their performance under the outgoing Prime Minister.

The Lichfield MP is backing Penny Mordaunt for Number 10, saying the “feisty” Brexiteer had “clear” ideas for the economy and would stand up to Russian aggression.

Unlike a number of other leadership candidates, Ms Mordaunt did not serve in Mr Johnson’s administration, having been International Development Secretary and Defence Secretary under Theresa May.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant

Mr Fabricant said: “Some of the other candidates are tainted by how they performed recently in government, so it is remarkable how they are now trying to suggest they are somehow offering a fresh start.

“They are most certainly not.”

In the early stages of the contest, trade minister Ms Mordaunt has fielded questions over her lack of name recognition with the public.

But Mr Fabricant, who attended her campaign launch yesterday, said he had “no doubt” that her profile would rise in the weeks and months ahead.

He said: “I have known Penny for many years during which time she has been Defence Secretary and held other senior posts.

“She is incredibly feisty and a Royal Navy reserve officer.

"I have no doubt that if people don’t know her now, they will get to know her very soon when they see her perform at Prime Minister’s Questions. Take it from me, she is no shrinking violet.”

Portsmouth North MP Ms Mordaunt has been backed by other MPs across the region, including Nicola Richards (West Bromwich East), Sir Bill Cash (Stone) and Theo Clarke (Stafford).

She progressed to today's second round ballot with 67 votes.

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