Penny Mordaunt responds to 'Theresa May with bigger hair' quip
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Penny Mordaunt was challenged by Sky News’s Beth Rigby at the launch of her Tory leadership campaign who labelled the minister as the “great unknown” in the race to replace Boris Johnson. Ms Ribgy quoted a diarist who had described Ms Mordaunt as “like Theresa May with bigger hair” which triggered a quick response from the Conservative leadership hopeful.
Ms Mordaunt replied: “I was a candidate at the last general election.
“I stood on the same platform as these good people in front of me.
“think what the public wants us to do is deliver on that would like to know you all better and I hope I will get the opportunity.”
Ms Mordaunt launched her leadership campaign with a promise to return to traditional Conservative values of “low tax, small state and personal responsibility”.
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At a launch event in London, the trade minister pledged to deliver a “relentless focus” on cost-of-living issues, cutting fuel duty and raising tax thresholds.
She said she would fix a “broken” Whitehall machine through the “white heat of modernisation” with a “tighter” cabinet.
She brushed off claims that she was less well-known than other candidates, saying “I am the candidate that Labour fear the most”.
The trade minister said the Government supply-side reforms would yield a “Brexit dividend” on investment, infrastructure and innovation.
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She promised to put “power back into the hands of parents” through personal budgets which allow every child access to their entitlement to subsidised child care at any time prior to them starting school.
Ms Mordaunt said she stood by the Conservative manifesto commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence but would also create a new civil defence force to supplement the military.
Asked where she stood on gender issues, she said: “I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said ‘Every prime minister needs a willy’. A woman like me doesn’t have one.”
On Boris Johnson, she said the Prime Minister deserved praise for delivering Brexit.
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“I am very different from Boris Johnson but we are still on the same manifesto, and I think we both believe in the same things.”
Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch, Ms Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman will all be on the ballot as MPs begin the process of voting to select the final two candidates to be the next prime minister.
Anyone who fails to get 30 votes on Wednesday afternoon will be eliminated from the contest, with the last-placed candidate losing their place even if they get above that threshold.
The vote is due between 1230 GMT and 1430 GMT with the result announced afterwards.
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