Penny Mordaunt jokes with Rigby about why she's not married
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Speaking to Sky News’ Ms Rigby, the Tory leadership hopeful, and bookies favourite to win the contest, was asked if she found it “irritating” that “motherhood and marriage” seem to be only relevant to women, as opposed to men, in power. Ms Mordaunt began by lauding the importance of the “experience” of having a family but later said it would be inappropriate for her to answer the question of why she does not have a husband.
Ms Rigby said: “Penny, I have run out of time but I have to ask you this last thing. You are obviously very close with your brother James, family is really important to you.
“You lost your mum when you were a teenager, I think, which must have been extremely hard.
“You are not married and you are not a mother. If you win this race, you will be the first single Prime Minister since Edward Heath.
“You’ll remember the issue with Theresa May in 2016 and the issue about her not being a mother. “Does it irritate you that motherhood and marriage are still relevant when we discuss women in positions of power?”
Ms Mordaunt said: “So, I think they are relevant to men and women because of the experience that comes from it.
“I think certainly the reason why I was so interested in politics from a young age was because of the experiences I had trying to help my family and keep the household going in quite strained times.
“So, I think those experiences are important but yes, the question, not that you would ask it Beth, of why are you not married, is never asked to men.”
Ms Rigby said: “And you would never answer it presumably, because it is no one’s business apart from yours?”
Ms Mordaunt said: “I would probably answer it but you could never show it on television.”
Laughing at the implication, Ms Rigby said: “Oh my goodness. Can we do that off camera?”
Ms Mordaunt has been on the wrong end of several political smear campaigns since her surprise success in the leadership contest but allies of Liz Truss have denied involvement in a “black ops” against her.
Former Cabinet minister David Davis, a supporter of Ms Mordaunt, had called out “black ops” being directed at her.
But transport minister and Truss backer Wendy Morton said she is “absolutely not” involved in any kind of untoward campaign.
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Ms Morton said: “What I am involved in is a campaign to get Liz Truss elected as the next leader of the Conservative Party because I happen to think, I know, that she’s the right candidate.
“I worked with her at the Foreign Office and I saw firsthand how hard-working she is, how dedicated she is, and how she just gets on with the job and she delivers.”
She said the Truss camp is not concerned about the lead Ms Mordaunt has maintained in the first two ballots, indicating hopes that Tory MPs might get behind her candidacy.
Ms Morton added: “You know, we have still got rounds of voting to go, there are still candidates, there are colleagues out there who have not declared for a candidate, there are colleagues who have voted for candidates who have now dropped out of the race. So it’s all to play for.”
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