Written by Amber Turner-Brightman
Following the long-awaited resignation of Boris Johnson last month, The Conservative Party is still in the process of electing its new leader, to be announced in two days’ time. The two remaining candidates - Rishi ‘no working-class friends’ Sunak and Instagram influencer Liz Truss - were successful in beating several other hopefuls to the final spot, one of these being Portsmouth’s own Penny Mordaunt. Between appearing on Splash! and saying the word ‘cock’ in parliament, Mordaunt has spent the last twelve years serving as the MP for Portsmouth North and has held multiple cabinet positions under the previous three Conservative governments.
Although originally one of the most popular contenders, her leadership bid had a shaky start. Not only did her original campaign video include footage of convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius, but it also attempted to capitalise on the tragic murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. At the time of its release she also backtracked from a previously trans-inclusive stance, effectively throwing the trans community under the bus, solely to distance herself from the ‘woke’ label some hard-line Tories had given her.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt
It only becomes worse when you delve into her voting record. As well as voting in favour of the racist and draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, she has consistently supported the reduction of welfare benefits and the introduction of stricter immigration laws. Notably, she voted to remove rights for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and dependant adults, and voted against banning the detention of immigrants who are pregnant or otherwise deemed vulnerable. Furthermore, she voted to reduce spending on welfare benefits forty-seven times between 2010 and 2016, including cutting benefits for those with debilitating disabilities and illnesses, suggesting that we instead put the money into new nuclear weapons. Even worse, she also claimed we should use Overseas Development Aid to build the Queen a new yacht.
Mordaunt also has a history of rejecting measures to protect the environment. Although she recently reiterated her aim to reach net zero, her decision to allow the discharge of raw sewage into waterways led to the flooding of Langstone Harbour with thousands of gallons of untreated waste. Yes, she encouraged Southern Water to pump a local nature reserve and area of special scientific interest with used sanitary products and literal human faeces. These judgements demonstrate Mordaunt’s flagrant disregard for both the most vulnerable members of our society and the wishes of those she is supposed to represent- but given that she’s a member of the Conservative Party, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Having said this, Mordaunt’s failure to reach premiership comes as a hollow victory given our two remaining options. Although I disagree with her heavily on an ideological level, it is fair to say that she would have been a fresh face in a sea of incompetent Johnsonites; representing a new start for a party ravaged by scandal and corruption. Instead, we are left with members of the disgraced ex-PM’s cabinet futilely attempting to distance themselves from a mess they not only enabled, but helped to create. Truss herself has discussed remaining loyal to Johnson in the face of his failures, and although Sunak was one of the first to resign, the decision was a selfish one - the domain Ready4Rishi was registered almost seven months before his leadership bid began, at the height of the Partygate scandal.
It almost feels satirical to watch the former Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer argue over hollow solutions to inflation and rising living costs, given that these issues were facilitated by a government they served under. Considering the country’s dire economic situation it’s also interesting to point out both candidates support and plan to extend the extradition of asylum seekers to Rwanda, which as well as being a cruel violation of human rights, starts at £120 million with no end cost in sight.
It seems fitting that the choice between a condescending Oxford graduate in Prada loafers and a Margaret Thatcher wannabe will be made by an overwhelmingly older, white, male and middle-class voter base. All that’s left for the rest of us to do is watch on in horror.
About the Author: Amber Turner-Brightman (they/them)
Hi, I'm Amber, EIC! I'm an MA Journalism student with an undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations. I'm particularly interested in current affairs and societal trends.