Mordaunt makes return to Tory leadership contest to back ‘hope’ candidate Truss

Penny Mordaunt branded Liz Truss a “hopeful candidate” as she made a surprise return to the Tory leadership race to support her former rival.

The Trade Secretary joined forces with Ms Truss just over two weeks after the Foreign Secretary’s allies denied involvement in a “black ops” campaign against the Portsmouth North MP.

Ms Mordaunt missed a chance to face Rishi Sunak in the runoff to replace Boris Johnson after finishing just eight votes behind Ms Truss in the final round among MPs.

Her endorsement came onstage at the last Hustings event, as absentee ballots fell on Conservative floor mats.

Mr Sunak is under pressure to break into the leading opinion polls which suggest Ms Truss is enjoying among the Tory members who will choose the next Prime Minister.

Ms Truss also tried to appeal to members by promising a “war on Whitehall waste”, cutting public service time off, ending national wage deals and scrapping jobs to increase inclusion and diversity in the public sector.

She claimed her plans would save £11billion and fight leftist “groupthink” in the public sector, although the proposals were met with an angry reception from unions.

Ms Mordaunt, in a sign she could be given a top job in Ms Truss’s cabinet if she emerges victorious, told members in Exeter that the Conservatives “could change the country briefly” and “could lose an election” if they make the decision wrong.

She said, “I couldn’t have stayed signed in, I could be sipping pina coladas right now, but I’m not because that’s too important and I’m not going to leave that to chance.”


Opinion polls suggest Ms Truss is leading the race for Prime Minister (Finnbarr Webster/PA)

Ms Mordaunt suggested Ms Truss could relate to people and take faster action to deal with the cost of living crisis while winning back councils.

She said of the Secretary of State: “Her transplant, her authenticity, her determination, her ambition for this country, her steadfastness and her sense of duty – she knows what she believes in and her determination to rise up against tyranny and stand up for freedom.” battle.

“That’s what our country stands for and that’s why I know that we can win with her.”

Ms Mordaunt concluded: “She is the hopeful candidate for me.”

The Hustings event in Exeter was a quieter affair than the direct televised debates, with both candidates taking to the stage separately to ask questions.

Ms Truss branded the Treasury Department a “block to progress” and hinted that she would make changes to how it works if she were to become Prime Minister.

Former Chancellor Mr. Sunak criticized the foreign minister’s economic plans, saying to applause, “I want to reform the corporate tax system… Liz Truss’ corporate tax policy is precisely the Treasury Department’s failed orthodoxy of the last 10 years that hasn’t worked.” I want to change it and make the economy grow.”


Mr Sunak outlined a bigger role for technology in NHS reform (Ben Birchall/PA)

Ms Truss also signaled a departure from her 2014 desire to repeal the Hunting Act 2004, a law that resulted in a ban on fox hunting in England and Wales.

She said: “I remember being a Minister under David Cameron’s government looking into this issue and I think opening Pandora’s box could potentially make things worse for people who enjoy sport in the countryside .”

Outlining a bigger role for technology in reforming the NHS, Mr Sunak explained: “Right now we have this massive backlog problem and like they’ve already done in some trusts we can use software automation and AI to rip massively through all the triaging and processing of them and cleaning up the lists, and that will reduce turnaround times.”

But while the Hustings’ tone was largely devoid of blue-on-blue attacks, Ms Truss slammed “attention-seeker” Nicola Sturgeon.

She said of Scotland’s First Minister: “I think the best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is to ignore her.”

Away from the hustle, Ms Truss said she will not go ahead with plans to introduce a ban on “buy-one-get-one-free” promotions for unhealthy foods.

In an interview with The Mail+, she said of taxes on products high in fat, sugar or salt: “There are definitely enough of those… Those taxes are over.”

She added, “I’m talking about whether or not someone should buy a two-for-one deal, no.” Mordaunt makes return to Tory leadership contest to back ‘hope’ candidate Truss

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