Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt reveals she's a cat lover

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Penny Mordaunt gives a thumbs up during an event to launch her campaign to be the next leader of the Conservative Party on July 13, 2022 in London, England. Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, is now one of eight contenders who achieved the necessary 20 nominations by the 12 July deadline and proceeds to the first ballot this evening.  She is the favourite in polling conducted by political blog ConservativeHome.   (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Tory leadership hopeful Penny Mordaunt was asked what her biggest weakness was at hustings event on Friday. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Penny Mordaunt has sought to burnish her credentials as the UK's next prime minister by staking her claim as a cat lover.

Speaking at an online hustings event for members of the Conservative Party on Friday afternoon, Mordaunt - along with the other four remaining leadership contestants - was asked her greatest weakness.

"I was tempted to say Burmese cats - as I have four - and introducing them into Number 10 might present some challenges with Larry," she said.

Larry is the resident cat in Number 10, and has gained notoriety for his impromptu appearances outside the famous black door.

Read more: Tory MP voting for Penny Mordaunt 'because of her brave viral belly flop’

Mordaunt went on to say delegating and team work have also been weaknesses in the past.

"I learned over the years to be able to delegate to become more effective. But I think all of us are going to need to build a team of all the talents in the party. We all have different backgrounds. We all have different strengths and weaknesses," she said.

Mordaunt is currently the bookies' favourite to win the leadership election with odds of 8/13. 

She is the most popular candidate with the Tory membership base, who will vote on the final two candidates over the summer.

Larry, the 10 Downing Street cat, waits in the street outside number 10, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister, in central London on May 12, 2020. - The British government on Monday published what it said was a
Larry the Downing Street cat. (Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak is the most popular among Conservative MPs, who are deciding on which two candidates progress to the final run-off in a series of votes that comes to a conclusion next week.

When he was asked what his greatest weakness was, the former chancellor suggested it was working too hard. "You've got to make sure that, in these jobs - especially the more senior you get - that you don't let perfect be the enemy of the good," he said.

Read more: Tory leadership race: Candidates turn on each other as contest heats up

Badenoch said she thinks her sense of humour can often come across as "offensive" while Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier, said talking about his time in the military may have become excessive at points.

Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Tom Tugendhat, Penny Mordaunt, and Kemi Badenoch are the only MPs left in the leadership race. (PA)

Current foreign secretary Liz Truss - also one of the favourites to make the final two - said her greatest weakness was being "excessively over enthusiastic".

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On Friday, allies of Truss had to deny involvement in a “black ops” campaign against Mordaunt.

Mordaunt claims to be unfazed by rivals’ attacks, suggesting other candidates are trying to stop her getting into the final two to avoid facing her in the deciding vote of party members.

Criticism of her for being too “woke” on issues such as trans rights, she said, is doomed to fail.

The hustings mark another key opportunity for leadership hopefuls to appeal to their party - with candidates expected to be whittled down to the final two by Thursday next week.

After that, Tory members will vote on their preferred candidate - and the winner will be announced on 5 September.

Watch: Penny Mordaunt tells Sky News her Tory leadership rivals are trying to stop her as they fear her most