Penny Mordaunt Says She Is The Tories' "Best Shot" Of Winning The Next Election
Penny Mordaunt has launched her campaign to lead the Conservative party with a claim that she is the candidate who Keir Starmer's Labour "fears the most".
Mordaunt, who has emerged as a serious rival to current frontrunner Rishi Sunak, said she was her party's "best shot" of winning the next general election.
Speaking in Westminster to a packed room of Conservative MPs, campaigners, and journalists, Mordaunt said the Tory party had lost its "sense of self" in recent years and needed to return to its core values of a small state, low tax, and personal responsibility.
The trade minister likened the party's recent performance to Paul McCartney's headline set at Glastonbury last month.
"If I compare it to being in the Glastonbury audience when Paul McCartney was playing his set, we indulged all of those new tunes but what we really wanted was the good old stuff," she said.
Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, is among the leading candidates to succeed Boris Johnson as Tory leader and Prime Minister after he announced his plan to resign last week.
Recent polling shows she is highly popular with Tory party members, despite her relative lack of Cabinet experience.
Mordaunt and seven other candidates made it onto the ballot on Tuesday after each securing nominations from at least 20 Conservative MPs. Tory MPs will hold a vote today to determine who will make it into the next round.
Mordaunt is currently expected to fight it out with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to secure a place in the final two, with the other spot looking like Sunak's.
Asked at her launch how she was different to Truss, Mordaunt said the Conservative party had to win the 2024 general election and that she was its "best shot" of doing that.
"If we do not win the next general election, all those opportunities and the vision that the British people have from us leaving the European Union will not be realised.
"We must win that election. I am your best shot at winning that election. I am the candidate that Labour fear the most. And they are right to," she said.
She appeared to rule out holding a snap general election if elected Prime Minister, saying the British public wanted to "get on with delivering" the party's 2019 manifesto.
Mordaunt announced several policies that she would enact if put into 10 Downing Street.
The minister said she would establish task forces to improve access to GPs and dentists and accelerate house building. She added that she would set up a civil defence force to take pressure off the army, and reform childcare so that families are each given a "budget" to use as they see fit.
Mordaunt, who was introduced by former Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom, said her sense of national service derived from seeing British ships leave Portsmouth Harbour for the Falklands at the age of nine.
"I didn't know much about that scene at nine-years-old. But witnessing it, and Thatcher's resolve at the time, I knew my country stood up to bullies," she said.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe