David Davis outlines Penny Mordaunt's strength in winning seats
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Penny Mordaunt is being touted as Britain’s future Prime Minister after swathes of Conservatives have rallied behind her bid to succeed Boris Johnson. In the first ballot of the Tory leadership race on Wednesday she secured the backing of 67 MPs – still some way off the 88 who voted for Rishi Sunak. However, Ms Mordaunt is the nailed-on favourite to enter Downing Street, according to a YouGov poll of 879 Conservative members this week, with 27 percent backing her, compared to just 13 percent for Mr Sunak.
Ms Mordaunt is one of the more obscure of the six candidates fighting to replace Mr Johnson after he resigned last week.
The 49-year-old MP for Portsmouth North, elected in 2010, is currently a Trade Minister and previously enjoyed a brief stint as the UK’s Defence Secretary – the first woman in history to hold the role.
Away from politics, she has served as a Royal Naval Reservist and in 2014 appeared on ‘Splash!’, ITV’s celebrity diving show presented by Olympian Tom Daley.
Despite her relatively short political career, the MP also co-wrote the 2020 book ‘Greater: Britain After the Storm’ with Chris Lewis, in which the authors present their vision for post-Brexit Britain.
However, Ms Mordaunt also used the book to take a brutal swipe at BBC News and its “miserable” presenters.
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The Tory leadership hopeful claimed she would rather watch the broadcaster’s popular restoration show, ‘The Repair Shop’, presented by Jay Blades, than be forced to sit through ‘BBC News at Ten’.
Her comments came as she referenced research by Professor Erin Meyer of the INSEAD Business School into the cultural attributes of different nations.
She said: “People from the UK, along with those in Sweden, Korea and Japan, were emotionally inexpressive and avoided confrontation.
“Has she been watching the BBC News of an evening? Trying to get through a single bulletin without scenes of wailing, anger, starvation, tears and confrontation is a challenge.
“And that’s just the international news. Presenter Orla Guerin is a sort of animated Edvard Munch painting.
“Available settings include ‘Harrowing’ or ‘Off’. Does every BBC News at Ten presenter have a default setting of miserable?
“More people prefer to watch The Repair Shop than the news. It’s hardly surprising.”
Ms Mordaunt has also been critical of the BBC during the last few weeks.
Last month she claimed the publicly-funded broadcaster was hesitant when it comes to patriotism.
Writing in the Daily Express, she said: “It should be okay for us to love our country.
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“The BBC of all organisations should know this. It says it is one of the most loved organisations in the country, yet it often fails to show reciprocity.
“Is it a crime to be proud of our culture, our heritage, our food, our theatre, our industry, our universities, our NHS, our traditions, and our history?
“These, after all, are the things we have in common.”
In a sign of her priorities as Prime Minster, Ms Mordaunt previously hit out at the BBC over its plans to end free TV licences for the over-75s.
During her spell as Defence Secretary, she wrote to the former Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright about the corporation’s proposals in 2019.
In a joint letter with Tobias Ellwood, she claimed that a “significant” number of veterans would be affected by the licence fee change.
‘Greater: Britain After the Storm’ was written by Penny Mordaunt and Chris Lewis and published by Biteback Publishing in 2020. It is available here.
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