Penny Mordaunt Says She Is 'In It To Win It' As Momentum Gathers Behind Rishi Sunak

The Commons leader denied she was in talks to support Boris Johnson in return for a top Cabinet post.
Penny Mordaunt pitched herself as the "haflway house" between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss in the last leadership election.
Penny Mordaunt pitched herself as the "haflway house" between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss in the last leadership election.
ISABEL INFANTES via Getty Images

Penny Mordaunt today insisted she was “in it to win it” in the Tory leadership race as momentum gathered behind her rival Rishi Sunak.

The Commons leader spoke just moments before Sunak officially declared he was running for Tory leader to “fix the economy, unite our party and deliver for our country”.

To get on the leadership ballot, candidates need to secure the backing of 100 MPs.

Sunak is currently in the lead with 133 public declarations of support, with Boris Johnson on 55 and Mordaunt on 23.

Johnson is the only candidate who has not yet formally declared that he is running.

The Commons leader said she had support beyond the 23 MPs who have publicly backed her, telling the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “I’m a savvy campaigner Laura, I’m not sharing my canvassing data with the others.

“I’m very confident about the progress we are making, and I will say to you that I’m in this to win it.”

Mordaunt, who backed Liz Truss in the last leadership race after she failed to make the final two, said she was a “halfway house” between Sunak and the outgoing prime minister and that she was best placed to “unite the party”.

“I was a halfway house between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak and I deeply regret that the debate now is about ‘are you for stability or low taxes’,” she said.

“That’s not the right construct. There are two sides of the same coin. You have to have stability in order to deliver low tax and you have to have low taxes in order to grow the economy and create that stability.”

Mordaunt also denied that she offered to back Johnson in return for a job from him, saying those reports were “completely false.”

And asked whether she shared some of her colleagues’ concerns about Johnson returning to the fold as prime minister, she said: “It’s not about him, it’s not about me, it’s about the public.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the Commons leader refused to be drawn on what policies she would implement if elected Tory leader.

Crunch issues include taxes, whether benefits should rise in line with inflation and whether public spending cuts are required to balance the books.

Asked whether she would make spending cuts, Mordaunt said she was not going to pre-empt chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s fiscal statement on October 31.

She also refused to be drawn on whether she would cut spending for the NHS and keep the pledge to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030.

At the Tory party conference earlier this month, Mordaunt was one of the first MPs to break cover to call for benefits to rise in line with inflation.

But asked whether she still stuck by that view, she told Kuenssberg: “We have always protected people but I’m not being drawn into the detail… what we must do is remember that our mandate lies in the 2019 manifesto.”


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