Penny Mordaunt meeting personnel during Armed Forces Day in Salisbury 290619 CREDIT MOD.jpg
Penny Mordaunt meeting personnel during Armed Forces Day 2019, it was her first and only Armed Forces Day event as Secretary of State for Defence (Picture: MOD).
Politics

Penny Mordaunt: Who is the Navy reservist running for PM?

Penny Mordaunt meeting personnel during Armed Forces Day in Salisbury 290619 CREDIT MOD.jpg
Penny Mordaunt meeting personnel during Armed Forces Day 2019, it was her first and only Armed Forces Day event as Secretary of State for Defence (Picture: MOD).

Former defence secretary Penny Mordaunt has confirmed on Twitter that she will be running for PM.

The Navy reservist stood unsuccessfully in the contest to replace former PM Boris Johnson in July but has confirmed she will run to replace Liz Truss, following her resignation on Thursday after 44 days in Number 10.

In a post on Twitter, the Royal Navy reservist and Portsmouth North MP said she had "been encouraged by support from colleagues who want a fresh start, a united party and leadership in the national interest".

"I'm running to be the leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister – to unite our country, deliver our pledges and win the next [General Election]," she posted on Twitter.

Candidates will have until 14:00 on Monday to gather 100 backers. 

"Taking soundings"

An ally had initially said that the Cabinet minister was "taking soundings" from colleagues on the prospect of her standing to replace Liz Truss.

Earlier, the source close to the Commons Leader and former contender for the top job told PA: "It's a testament to Penny's campaign over the summer how many colleagues have already come out asking her to stand."

But, who is Penny Mordaunt, and what is her background?

Ms Mordaunt was appointed as the first-ever female Defence Secretary in May 2019 following the sacking of Gavin Williamson.

She had been in the Cabinet post for only 85 days, however, before she was removed from the position by the then-new Prime Minister Boris Johnson and replaced by former Army officer Ben Wallace.

In July, the final round of voting saw Penny Mordaunt lose out after receiving 105 votes, less than former chancellor Rishi Sunak (137) and Liz Truss who accumulated 113.

Scottish Tory MP John Lamont has made the case for Penny Mordaunt to replace Liz Truss as Prime Minister, arguing she would bring together the "strongest" Government.

First elected to Parliament as MP for Portsmouth North in 2010, Ms Mordaunt achieved ministerial rank under David Cameron between 2014 and 2016 and was appointed Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health when Theresa May took power in 2016.

She is the Government's ministerial disability champion and was appointed Minister of State at the Department for International Trade in September last year.

Ms Mordaunt is a Royal Navy reservist and the daughter of a paratrooper and serves as acting sub-lieutenant of the Portsmouth-based HMS King Alfred.

In April 2019, the Queen appointed her a commander with an honorary commission. She later became an honorary captain in June 2021.

She is currently the only female MP who is a Royal Naval reservist.

Watch: Penny Mordaunt attended her only Armed Forces Day as Defence Secretary in 2019.

Time as Defence Secretary 

Ms Mordaunt took over from Gavin Williamson in 2019, having previously served as Minister for International Development.

She had previously worked as Minister of State for the Armed Forces from May 2015 until July 2016 and as Parliamentary Private Secretary to then-defence secretary Philip Hammond.

Her first official engagement was alongside Prince William when they heard of the pride and sacrifice that had gone into delivering five decades of Britain's continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.

She announced a new package of measures to boost mental health support for ex-service personnel.

Up to £9m funding was put towards veterans' mental health and wellbeing activities – this followed the Government's allocation of £10m to support veterans' mental health.

Encouraging women into the Armed Forces

Ms Mordaunt said by 2028 women should make up at least 15% of UK personnel on UN peacekeeping missions.

She also announced that at least 6% of patrol personnel in Cyprus should be women.

Watch: Penny Mordaunt promoting the role of women in the Armed Forces in 2016.

End of tenure

Towards the end of her tenure, she made several more key announcements.

Having said "the sky is no longer the limit", Ms Mordaunt announced a new space plan for the UK to adapt to "evolving threats" and that £30m would be invested to fast-track the launch of a "small satellite demonstrator" by 2020.

She also announced that the Armed Forces would deploy to Mali in 2020 to support the UN peacekeeping operation in response to the increasing instability in the Sahel region.

Ms Mordaunt left Cabinet at the end of July 2019. 

In a tweet at the time, she said: "I'm heading to the backbenches from where the PM will have my full support, as will my successors at the MOD and Women Equalities.

"Thank you to everyone who's helped me get things done, especially our Armed Forces and civilians in defence for the last 85 days.

"We achieved much."

Her voting record on defence:

Voted against an investigation into the contrast between public statements and private actions in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Consistently voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas.

Consistently voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system.

Consistently voted against strengthening the Military Covenant.

Consistently voted for military action against the so-called Islamic State.

(Source: TheyWorkForYou).