Who is Penny Mordaunt and what is the Leader of the House of Commons' voting history?

Who is Penny Mordaunt and what is the Leader of the House of Commons' voting history?

Penny Mordaunt is a prominent Tory politician, having been the first to throw her name into the ring for the party leadership contest that saw Liz Truss win.

Now, as another general election looms, she is lending her support to the current leader of the Conservative party, Rishi Sunak.

As of May 30, 2024, Ms Mordaunt is no longer an MP but was most recently the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North.

Here’s a closer look at Ms Mordaunt and her background both in and out of politics.

What is Penny Mordaunt’s political background?

The 49-year-old first ran for Parliament in her hometown of Portsmouth in 2005, but lost out to Labour's Sarah McCarthy-Fry. In 2010, she stood again and won the seat with a majority of more than 7,000 votes, achieving an almost 9 per cent swing to the Conservative party.

Before running as an MP, she was an active Tory member. After graduating from the University of Reading with a Philosophy degree in 1995, she acted as the head of youth for the Conservative Party and went on to become the Tory head of broadcasting under William Hague.

Ms Mordaunt then held various communications jobs, including as Head of Foreign Press for George W. Bush's presidential campaign, and as comms director for Kensington and Chelsea council from 2001 to 2003.

What government role does she currently hold?

Ms Mordaunt is currently leader of the House of Commons. She was handed the role by Liz Truss, who she backed to become PM when she was knocked out in the final round of the Tory leadership race over the summer.

As part of her role, she was responsible for officially announcing the Queen's death and proclaiming Charles as Britain’s new King.

She was the first woman to proclaim a new monarch and was applauded online for doing an “outstanding job” during a “moving and sombre” ceremony in Westminster.

Mordaunt was responsible for officially announcing the Queen’s death (BBC)
Mordaunt was responsible for officially announcing the Queen’s death (BBC)

She was the international trade minister in Mr Johnson’s Government and was not among the dozens of MPs who resigned their government posts in a bid to oust him as PM.

Previously, she has held two cabinet roles, including becoming the first ever female Secretary of State for Defence in 2019 following the sacking of Gavin Williamson.

However, she was demoted under Mr Johnson. It was speculated that she fell out of favour with him for backing the prime minister’s rival Jeremy Hunt in the last Tory leadership race.

Under David Cameron, she achieved ministerial rank between 2014 and 2016 and was appointed minister for disabled people when Theresa May took power in 2016.

Her Royal Navy background

Penny Mordaunt, a Navy reservist, was sacked as defence secretary by Boris Johnson in 2019 (PA Media)
Penny Mordaunt, a Navy reservist, was sacked as defence secretary by Boris Johnson in 2019 (PA Media)

Ms Mordaunt is a Royal Navy reservist. Her father, John, was a paratrooper and she served as acting sub-lieutenant of the Portsmouth-based HMS King Alfred in 2010.

She was made an honorary commander in 2019 and an honourary captain on in June 2021.

What was her position on Brexit?

During the Brexit referendum, she was one of the leading faces of the Leave campaign and has continued to insist that the benefits of leaving the EU "are huge" for the UK.

A month before the vote in May 2016, she controversially claimed that the UK would have no say in whether Turkey could join the EU.

Her claims that the government was "not going to be consulted" on new EU members had to be denied by then-PM David Cameron.

Her Trans rights support and controversy

Ms Mordaunt has been a supporter of trans rights and was previously praised by LGBTQ groups for her allyship.

Last year at the House of Commons despatch box, she told MPs: "Trans men are men and trans women are women."

However, she drew criticism from some campaigners over the weekend for clarifying that she did not believe that trans women are “biological women”.

Blasting critics who have attempted to depict her as "woke" over her stance, she said: "I am biologically a woman. If I have a hysterectomy or mastectomy, I am still a woman.

"And I am legally a woman. Some people born male and who have been through the gender recognition process are also legally female. That DOES NOT mean they are biological women, like me.

"All my life, I’ve fought for gender equality. I’ve stood up for women. I’ve listened to them. I’ve been right alongside them in every major battle. I make sure policy is focused on them. Just look at my track record.

"My work resulted in a comprehensive road map of what any government should be focusing on for women at every stage of their lives. It remains relevant today."

Personal life and appearance on ITV reality TV show Splash!

Penny Mordaunt appeared on the ITV show Splash (PA)
Penny Mordaunt appeared on the ITV show Splash (PA)

In 2014, Ms Mordaunt appeared on the short-lived reality TV show Splash!.

Presented by Olympian Tom Daley, it featured celebrities learning how to dive.

Labour criticised her appearing on the show, saying she should have focused on her constituency work.

But Ms Mordaunt defended signing up as a contestant and donated the £10,000 appearance fee to charity.

During interviews to promote the show, Ms Mordaunt revealed that her mother died of breast cancer when she was just 15 – the same year her father was also diagnosed with the disease – and she became a "child carer".

She said she took a job as a magician’s assistant to fund her college studies. The job involved her being "sawn in half", she said.