Who is Penny Mordaunt? Everything you need to know about new Tory leader favourite

Penny Mordaunt: Frost reveals 'reservations' over leadership bid

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Penny Mordaunt has emerged as a frontrunner in the race to become the next Tory leader and UK Prime Minister. But unlike other well-known candidates like Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, Ms Mordaunt is relatively unknown to the British public.

Ms Mordaunt is now the bookies favourite to win the contest – even though Mr Sunak gained the most support in the first round of voting by Conservative MPs.

She is also the clear favourite among Conservative supporters according to the latest YouGov poll and a separate survey by Conservative Home.

The YouGov poll, conducted between July 12 and 13, gave Ms Mordaunt the backing of 27 percent of those surveyed.

The Conservative Home poll found Ms Mordaunt has 20 percent of those polled in her favour, more than any other candidate.

Ms Mordaunt has positioned herself as an alternative to the various former Boris Johnson supporters and has promised a return to a “Thatcherite agenda”.

She has also pledged to stick with net zero targets, lifting earning threshold for tax bands and to increase defence spending.

Who is Penny Mordaunt?

Ms Mordaunt is the MP for Portsmouth North and has represented the constituency since 2010.

Serving as Minister for Trade Policy since 2021, she has held several cabinet positions in her time as a politician, including Minister for Defence, Minister for Equalities and as Paymaster General.

Born in Devon in 1973, Ms Mordaunt is the daughter of a former paratrooper and special needs teacher and has a twin brother.

She is distantly related to actor Angela Lansbury, who is her grandmother’s cousin, and she is therefore also distantly related to former Labour leader George Lansbury.

Ms Mordaunt attended a state school in Hampshire and later studied drama at a theatre school.

The party leader hopeful has a colourful employment background, having worked in a factory, as a magician’s assistant, and in an orphanage in Romania.

The first member of her family to attend university studied philosophy at the University of Reading and graduated in 1995 with a 2:1.

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During her student years, she was active in the political scene and was President of the Reading University Student’s Union.

Shortly after her studies ended, she became involved with the Conservative party.

Under John Major, she was president of Youth for the Conservative party and went on to work as head of broadcasting under party leader William Hague.

She even worked as head of foreign press on former American President George W Bush’s 2000 campaign.

The now Portsmouth North MP first contested the seat in the 2005 general election, but despite securing a 5.5 percent swing, she lost out to Labour.

She eventually won the seat in 2010, securing an 8.4 percent swing from Labour.

More recently, Ms Mordaunt has supported the 2016 leave campaign and is a Royal Navy Reserve.

She was married to Paul Murray, whom she met at university, but they divorced only one year after they were wed in 1999.

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