Penny Mordaunt: 7 things you need to know about the new DfID secretary

Penny Mordaunt MP

Following Priti Patel’s resignation from the cabinet on Wednesday evening, Theresa May has appointed Penny Mordaunt as her replacement.

Thursday’s cabinet reshuffle is the second in seven days following Michael Fallon’s replacement by Gavin Williamson last week. Unlike Williamson’s appointment, Mordaunt’s promotion has been far less controversial.

What do we know about Britain’s latest cabinet minister?

Gavin Williamson

1. Her life before politics

Born in Devon, Mordaunt attended the University of Reading and studied philosophy. According to her website, she then worked in communications and was the Director of Diabetes UK.

2. The Navy

Mordaunt is also a Royal Navy reservist. Her father was in the UK’s Parachute Regiment.

3. Portsmouth North

During her seven years as an MP, Mordaunt has turned her constituency into a very safe Tory seat.

Her southern seat of Portsmouth North was held by Labour when Tony Blair was in power, but in 2010 she defeated Sarah McCarthy-Fry to take the seat with 44.3% as the Labour vote collapsed. At each of the subsequent elections she improved on her vote shares, winning in 2017 with almost 55% of the vote.

Priti Patel

4. Ministerial career

In 2014, Mordaunt was appointed to the position of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. After David Cameron’s 2015 majority win, she was moved to the defence department to become the country’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces. After Theresa May’s 2016 rise to power, she was made Minister for Disabled People.

5. The commuter mayor

In 2006, when Mordant was the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Portsmouth North, she wrote a Conservative Home post voicing her thoughts about running for the London Mayor position in 2008.

She wrote:

I live in Portsmouth, but work in central London. I have a two hour commute to and from work each day. Like millions of others I spend an average of at least 40 hours a week in our capital city.

In the end, she did not run, and Boris Johnson became the Conservative candidate.

Penny Mordaunt

6. The sparking of her interest in politics

According to the Conservative Party’s website, in her youth Mordaunt spent time in Romanian orphanages and hospitals, an experience which she said first engaged her in politics.

7. A future leader?

With commentators often wondering about Theresa May's replacement when she eventually steps down, eyes often turn to newcomers like James Cleverly, Gavin Williamson and even the outgoing Priti Patel. Mordaunt is one of these newcomers – having only entered parliament in 2010 – and is in with a shot of becoming the next Conservative leader if the betting markets are to be believed.

She’s not one of the favourites such as David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson, but her odds have been cut since she became International Development Secretary on Thursday. According to Oddschecker, William Hill offer odds of 40/1 for a Mordaunt leadership, and PaddyPower offer 33/1 (as of 3pm 9th November).