Mordaunt 'left other ministers to pick up the pieces as she planned leadership bid'

18 July 2022, 09:55 | Updated: 20 October 2022, 13:49

Minister says Penny Mordaunt has been absent from Govt job

By Megan Hinton

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has accused Penny Mordaunt of spending "months" preparing for her leadership campaign and leaving other ministers to "pick up the pieces".

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The Secretary of State for International Trade who currently works alongside Ms Mordaunt, said the Tory leadership candidate has "spent a number of months preparing" for the fall of Boris Johnson.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Ms Trevelyan hinted that the Portsmouth MP had been prioritising her bid for PM over her Government duties claiming there has been a "number of times when she hasn't been available".

She told Nick: "So I have had a super I'm now changing team at the Department for International Trade, one of whom is Penny.

"We all do our jobs in different ways and understandably perhaps it is clear penny for the last few months has spent some of her time preparing for her leadership campaign... For which I have upmost respect.

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"I know how this system works, it's brave for anyone who is willing to put themselves into that role but I wanted to support Tom [Tugendhat]."

When pressed further about her claims, the Trade Secretary continued: "So I think a number of candidates have spent a number of months preparing their campaigns yes.

"So there have been a number of times when she hasn't been available which would have been useful and other ministers have picked up the pieces, yes."

The Naval reservist has made it through the first two round of voting, coming in second place for popularity to be the next Prime Minister and last week was topping opinion polls.

Read more: Tory leadership hopeful Tom Tugendhat: 'I'm running to give people a choice'

But contenders will be whittled down to just four on Monday as MPs cast their votes in the third round of the contest to find a successor to Boris Johnson.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan reflects on Boris Johnson's resignation

Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she hopes Tom Tugendhat will get another shot at the Conservative Party leadership if he fails in this attempt.

Ms Trevelyan, a major supporter of Mr Tugendhat, told LBC: "He has this extraordinary ability to bring people together to work with him who would not otherwise work together.

"I think it's a genuine gift and I wanted the rest of the world to see much more of it.

"If this isn't his time, I hope that there will be a future time when he can lead the party."

Mr Tugendhat is at risk of dropping out of the race in Monday's ballot, having finished below his rivals in the last round of voting.

The remaining candidates were involved in series of bad-tempered exchanges in the latest TV debate - staged by ITV - on Sunday evening as the battle for a place in the run off ballot of party members became ever more bitter.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who topped both the first two ballots clashed with international trade minister Penny Mordaunt and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss over the economy.

And former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat - who finished fourth and fifth respectively in the last ballot and are battling to avoid elimination - squared off over who had the record and experience to be prime minister.