Penny Mordaunt’s best power and largest weak point are one and the identical: Nobody actually is aware of who she is.
As the only real rival to Rishi Sunak within the last 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 Get together has its benefits. Whereas different members of parliament have struggled to distance themselves from the failure of earlier governments, Mordaunt has been capable of paint herself as one thing of an outsider.
However the reality 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 throughout the Conservative management marketing campaign this summer season, Mordaunt promised a return to conventional Tory values: Low taxes, a small state, particular person accountability.
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 last vote.
If Mordaunt had made it to that stage, she may need been anticipated to carry out properly. A darling of the Tory grassroots, her army background – she is a Royal Navy reservist – and references to Margaret Thatcher have performed properly amongst celebration members.
In her earlier marketing campaign video, Mordaunt recalled watching a naval activity power sail from her residence city of Portsmouth, the place she is now the MP, to the Falklands – the South Atlantic islands that Thatcher went to warfare with Argentina to reclaim. “It taught me that my nation stands as much as bullies,” she mentioned.
Mordaunt has been criticized prior to now for her ideological flexibility. On the current Conservative Get together convention, she referred to as Truss’ insurance policies “nice.” Given the implosion of “Trussonomics,” she’s going to in all probability need to revise her place on that.
She additionally revised her ideas on one other contentious difficulty. When she was minister for ladies and equalities, Mordaunt took a pro-transgender stance, asserting that “trans males are males, trans girls are girls.”
However, below strain 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.