Penny Mordaunt ‘determined to serve nation’ says Leadsom
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Penny Mordaunt has been described as the “unity candidate” the Conservative Party need by key backer Andrea Leadsom as the race to succeed Liz Truss as Britain’s Prime Minister moves to a crunch point. On Monday Ms Mordaunt’s campaign team was scrambling to hover up support from remaining Tory MPs as the race for Downing Street narrowed ahead of Monday’s 2 pm deadline for candidates to reach 100 nominations.
Ms Leadsom told Sky News: “The important thing is that Penny is doing this because she is determined to serve our nation properly.
“She’s the fresh face that the country wants, and she’s the Unity candidate that our party needs.
“It is absolutely vital that we offer the country a choice and over just the next few days, they will get the opportunity to look at those candidates.”
Sunak is positioned as the frontrunner for the top job after Johnson pulled out on Sunday evening leading Mordaunt to face a sprint finish to secure support from Tory MPs.
Mr Sunak breezed to the requited 100 nominations from Tory MPs comfortably beating Monday’s 2pm deadline.
His remaining rival, the Commons Leader will face a run-off with Mr Sunak if she manages to secure enough backers, something allies are “confident” she will be able to do.
Where Mordaunt falls short, however, all that remains would be for Mr Sunak to be crowned the winner and Britain’s next Prime Minister.
A victory in the Tory leadership contest would see Mr Sunak succeed Truss as Prime Minister just seven weeks after narrowly losing out to the former foreign secretary in his previous bid for the top job.
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Mr Johnson flew back to the UK from the Caribbean getaway last week as the former Prime Minister looked to make a dramatic political comeback only two months after being booted out following a string of scandals.
By Sunday evening, however, Mr Johnson was forced to concede after consulting Conservative colleagues that it was apparent he was not the “unity” candidate the party was looking for.
“You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in Parliament,” he said in a statement.
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“And though I have reached out to both Rishi and Penny – because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest – we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this.
“I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”
Ms Mordaunt responded to Mr Johnson’s decision to withdraw from the contest by saying the former Tory leader had decided to put “country before party.”
In a tweet, she wrote: “In taking this difficult decision last night Boris Johnson has put country before party, and party before self. He worked to secure the mandate and the majority we now enjoy. We should put it to good use, and I know he will work with us to do so.”
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