WATCH: Ben Wallace’s Penny Mordaunt Leadership Jibe

On Tuesday he was a chef, last night he was a comedian. For his second consecutive appearance as guest of honour at a Westminster summer bash, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace entertained the hundreds gathered at ConservativeHome’s annual reception yesterday with a few well-placed gags at his colleagues’ expense. The crowd seemed to go for the first third, though a fellow Cabinet Minister suggested the latter 10 minutes could have been trimmed.

Opening with a crack at Michael Gove, Wallace quipped:

“Quite a hard speech to give, because not only is speaking to your own is always one of the biggest challenges, it’s one of those speeches where you’re supposed to be funny. And I’m not Michael Gove. Well, I’m not how he used to be…”

Not bad. Although he saved the best for his MoD predecessor – and potential leadership rival – Penny Mordaunt:

“Today, you’ll have seen the helicopters flying overhead, just before I gave my speech. That wasn’t a reminder that if you don’t laugh, I have snipers in some of those helicopters. It was simply the fact that it is Armed Forces week. Today it was the week that we celebrate our Armed Forces. Today was Reserves day and we have many colleagues in the House who are reserves. We’ve got Mark Francois, he is in the reserves, we’ve got Penny Mordaunt who is a reservist as well in the Royal Navy. So Penny’s got three jobs: she’s in the reserves, she’s an MP and the leadership.”

Smiles all round, no Penny in sight, though Guido hears she’s got party planning of her own to do…

mdi-timer 23 June 2022 @ 09:06 23 Jun 2022 @ 09:06 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Anti-Boris Rebels: Penny Should Quit or Stop Manoeuvring

Despite being on resignation watch last Monday, Penny Mordaunt remains stubbornly in government. A week ago when asked if she was backing the PM she coldly told her local paper “I have continued to support him”. An op-ed from her in the next day’s Telegraph focused almost entirely on policy, only saying the previous day’s events had “brought division. It also brought a result.” Her leadership ambitions are hardly a secret – not now nor any time over the past half-a-decade…

Despite being a front runner in the bookies, it sounds like Penny’s manoeuvring may have hit a roadblock. Without hesitation anti-Boris rebels tell Guido that the most overt moves for the leadership are being made by Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt. There is some frustration with Mordaunt in light of her anti-Boris manoeuvring being carried out whilst still cashing a ministerial paycheck. Another anti-Boris rebel has independently voiced to Guido a similarly unimpressed review of her current Janus-faced stance…

Penny is a smart operator, has courage and ideas. Nevertheless at the start of the year Guido spoke to a key member of Boris’s 2019 leadership campaign, who when asked about Boris’s chance of staying on, said they’d be happy to offer advice to the campaigns of any leadership contender, apart from Mordaunt. Allies of the PM believe her inability to be a team player, and being too wet on social issues – especially trans – means she’ll struggle to get support beyond her friends in the metropolitan media. Penny’s overt positioning proves Maggie’s old adage right, that standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.

mdi-timer 13 June 2022 @ 15:07 13 Jun 2022 @ 15:07 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Evasive Mordaunt Insists She’s “Continued to Support” Boris

Having kept noticeably quiet all morning, Penny Mordaunt has finally spoken publicly regarding the no confidence vote, and it’s as evasive and non-committal as might be expected of the potential leadership candidate. She’s currently in Portsmouth marking the 78th anniversary of the D-Day landings, and just spoke to Portsmouth News. Notice how it’s all in the past tense – nothing concrete on how she’s voting tonight…

I didn’t choose this prime minister, I didn’t support him in the leadership contest but he has always had my loyalty because I think that’s what you do when you have a democratic process – you select a leader and then you owe that person your loyalty. That’s always been my approach, whatever differences I’ve had with people and that remains. I’m one of his ministers and I have continued to support him. I hope that we can return swiftly to the real business at hand which is getting growth back into the economy and continuing our support in the Ukraine. I think being here, at the D-Day memorial in Portsmouth today, is a reminder of what’s really important outside the Westminster bubble.”

A bit limp. Guido’s phoned Mordaunt’s office to get a clear answer on how she’ll vote tonight. No answer yet…

mdi-timer 6 June 2022 @ 13:33 6 Jun 2022 @ 13:33 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Steve Baker Warns Government Over Possible Autumn Return of Covid Rules

Steve Baker has warned the government against acquiescing to “tunnel vision” after Penny Mordaunt floated a review into public guidance in the Autumn.

A written question in the Commons saw Mordaunt commit the government to undertaking a review “to assess the country’s preparedness for autumn and winter”, which poses the possibility of new guidance depending on the state of Covid. Including restrictions such as face masks, and test, trace and isolate…

Responding to Penny’s answer, Baker tells Guido:

“As we learn to live with coronavirus like we live with flu, and get on with our lives, it’s vital the Government doesn’t acquiesce into the tunnel vision that has made us sacrifice so much that makes life worth living. We don’t shut schools, pubs and theatres for flu so following the fantastic success of our vaccine rollout, we mustn’t do it for Covid either.”

Given debate is raging about current regulations, it’s interesting to see Baker setting out groundwork opposition to a future return to restrictions many months in advance. 

Guido also questions why the government is planning on assessing the country’s preparedness for Autumn and Winter “in September”. Can you prepare for an event once you’ve already run into the deadline?

mdi-timer 21 July 2021 @ 16:27 21 Jul 2021 @ 16:27 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Mordaunt Mauls the SNP

Penny Mordaunt was back on the prowl yesterday, this time taking Ian Blackford and the rest of the SNP to town over calls for an inquiry into PPE contracts:

I always take pleasure in taking part in SNP debates – I have done a few, and am beginning to notice a pattern. I have been called here previously to defend the UK’s position on jobs, while the SNP has dismissed the 545,000 Scottish jobs that are reliant on Scotland’s being part of the UK. I have been called here to discuss the importance of hypothetical EU funding mechanisms, while the SNP dismisses the very real United Kingdom dividend to the taxpayers of Scotland of £2,000 per person, and in another debate the SNP sought to be the champions of democracy while they ignored the result of two referendums. Although it might be a surprise to some that, in a week when we have had more revelations about the Scottish government’s own lack of financial propriety and literacy, the SNP has called a debate on such scheme – it is not a surprise to me. I think it shows admirable consistency, as well as a complete lack of self-awareness with a large helping of assumed piety.”

First Rayner, now Blackford, she’s the Harry Kane of the frontbench, putting it in the back of the opposition’s net to cheers from behind her…

mdi-timer 8 July 2021 @ 10:18 8 Jul 2021 @ 10:18 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Penny Mordaunt Fact Check: Who Funds Angela Rayner?

Penny Mordaunt’s mauling of Angela Rayner in the Commons yesterday afternoon took Westminster by storm, with both Rayner and Mordaunt even trending on Twitter. Given it was so watched, Guido thought a fact check of one of Mordaunt’s main claims was in order:

“If you were to take every single MP she’s made an allegation about this afternoon, and you were to look at all the political donations they have received since the pandemic started (since January 2020), if you were to add them all up; if you were to double them – no, Mr Speaker, if you were to quadruple them – you would still just about match what the hon. Lady herself has received in the same time period.”

Referring back to Ange’s speech, she named the PM, the Home Secretary, the Health Secretary and Lord Lister, whose total declared takings since January 2020 benchmark amounted to just £4,660 for Boris and £55,586 for Hancock. Surprisingly, Priti doesn’t have a single register of interest entry…

Rayner’s coffers on the other hand have been working overtime. Since January 2020 Angie has received:

  • 21 January: £50,000 from Waheed Ali
  • 22 January: £1,683.21 from GMB
  • 22 January: £47,227.58 from GMB
  • 26 January: £1,000 from Simeon Honore
  • 30 January: £25,000 from GMB
  • 31 January: £10,000 from Rajesh Agrawal
  • 4 February: £10,000 from USDAW
  • 11 February: £25,000 from CWU
  • 25 February: £2,000 from Mohammed Imran
  • 4 March: £25,000 from Trevor Chinn
  • 5 March: £10,000 from Intro Developments Ltd
  • 5 March: £25,000 from Martin Taylor
  • 12 March: £2,500 from Simeon Honore

That’s a whopping £234,410.79, and – as Penny pointed out – the same as four times the total takings of the government figures she was pointing the finger at (£240,984). Penny had Rayner bang to rights…

mdi-timer 19 May 2021 @ 11:29 19 May 2021 @ 11:29 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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