Penny Mordaunt Brexit stance – Trade Minister and PM hopefuls huge opportunity for UK

Penny Mordaunt discusses post-Brexit UK-US trade deal

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Conservatives disaffected with Boris Johnson left the Prime Minister near fatally wounded last week when a no-confidence vote exposed a near 50 percent rift in the party. He and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss have since opted to retread the Government’s longstanding bust-up with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol in what some critics have described as an attempt at self-preservation. The complications around the protocol and the bill proposed to override it will ultimately set up a challenge for Mr Johnson’s successor, who will need to prove themselves as torchbearers for the Conservatives’ flagship policy.

Is Penny Mordaunt a Brexiteer?

Ms Mordaunt is the Government’s minister for trade policy and deputises for cabinet trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

While she has only held the position since September 2021, she has a long track record of Government delivery, having also served under Theresa May as minister for women and equalities, international development and defence.

Before taking her ministerial roles, she was a passionate defender of Brexit and helped bolster the Leave campaign in 2016.

Like Mr Johnson, Ms Mordaunt courted trouble for some of her statements supporting the UK’s departure from the bloc and was condemned for lying.

One month before the referendum vote in late May, she claimed the country would not have a say in whether Turkey could join EU ranks.

Speaking to Andrew Marr, she said the UK could not veto prospective members.

She claimed the British Government was “not going to be consulted”, something then Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to deny.

He told ITV’s Peston: “Britain and every other country in the European Union has a veto on another country joining.”

James McGrory, a Remain campaigner with Britain Stronger in Europe, accused her of “plain and simple lying”.

Ms Mordaunt is still convinced of Brexit’s benefits, as she continues to publicly endorse the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

She declared the vote a “massive opportunity” after taking her role as a trade minister last year.

In December 2021, she posted on Twitter: “Brexit is not an event to be mourned by the international community.

“Or an act of self-harm or one that requires us to be punished.

“It is a massive opportunity to anyone who believes in democracy and the power of trade as a force for good in the world.”

Ms Mordaunt’s similarities to Mr Johnson may appeal to some Tories, and she is currently in the top spot among the crop of potential replacements.

According to pollsters with Smarkets politics, she is tied with Jeremy Hunt as the next potential Tory leader.

Both Tories have a chance of 13 percent to take the top spot, with Ms Truss in a close third on 11 percent.

The remaining potential candidates include Ben Wallace on nine percent, Rishi Sunak on eight percent and Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi on seven percent each.

Matthew Shaddick, Smarkets Head of Political Markets, said the next leader race remains “wide open”, as Ms Mordaunt is the fourth leading Conservative to emerge as favourite.

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