Penny Mordaunt backs Liz Truss in bitter blow for Rishi Sunak

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·3-min read
Penny Mordaunt backs Liz Truss in bitter blow for Rishi Sunak
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Penny Mordaunt announced her backing for Liz Truss on Monday in a bitter blow for Rishi Sunak’s leadership hopes.

Speaking before Ms Truss took to the stage for a hustings event in Exeter, Ms Mordaunt said the Foreign Secretary was the “hope candidate” who “knows what she believes in”.

Ms Mordaunt finished third in the Tory leadership contest, narrowly losing out to Ms Truss. Her support is a significant boost to Ms Truss before ballot papers are sent to party members this week.

She told Tory members that the party needed a leader who could “clobber their opponents” and who “embodies the vision and values the British public voted for in 2016 and 2019”.

Ms Mordaunt added: “I came third in this contest. I owe it to all of you to be a signpost, not a weathervane. So, I’ve made my choice. And I know it’s difficult, because I like both candidates.

“They are both good Conservatives who love their country. And they’ve both done what they thought was right for the right reasons.”

Tory members cheered the announcement, with Ms Mordaunt adding: “Liz Truss’s graft, her authenticity, her determination, her ambition for this country, her consistency and sense of duty - she knows what she believes in, and her resolve to stand up against tyranny and fight for freedom.

“That’s what our country stands for and that’s why I know with her we can win.”

Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak speaks during a hustings event (REUTERS)
Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak speaks during a hustings event (REUTERS)

Nadhim Zahawi, Tom Tugendhat and Suella Braverman are among the defeated leadership candidates to have endorsed Ms Truss in recent days.

Meanwhile, Ms Truss told members that she would channel the spirit of the victorious Lionesses were she to become Prime Minister. She said they had “fought bravely against the odds and delivered a massive victory against the odds” in the Euro 2022 final and vowed to do the same in No10.

The Foreign Secretary declared she would “win back Tiverton and Honiton”, which the Lib Dems secured at a by-election after Neil Parish resigned after admitting he had watched pornography twice on his phone in Parliament.

Ms Truss ran through her policies and acknowledged the “difficult times” facing the country, adding: “Now is not the time for business as usual, now we have to be bold, we need a plan for growth, and that is what I will do.”

Introduced by Conservative former cabinet minister Liam Fox, Mr Sunak said the Conservatives have to “restore trust”, “rebuild the economy” and “reunite our country”.

He reiterated his belief that he has not taken the “easy path” in his vision set out in the leadership election, but said “it may not be easy, but it is honest”.

Mr Sunak was applauded by Tory members after saying Ms Truss’s policies on corporate taxation are “exactly the failed Treasury orthodoxy of the last 10 years”.

“I want to reform the corporate tax system … Liz Truss’s policies on corporate taxation are exactly the failed Treasury orthodoxy of the last 10 years, which hasn’t worked. I want to change it and grow the economy,” he added.

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