‘Pints with Penny’ as Mordaunt pledges support to Sunak after local elections

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt has said she’s “more of a pints with Penny” woman as she dispelled rumours of a leadership bid and pledged to stand by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak following local elections.

During Business Questions in the Commons on Thursday, Ms Mordaunt also said she thinks something will “crop up” before a general election to turn the tide of public opinion in favour of the Conservatives.

Ms Mordaunt has been one of several senior Tories at the focus of party leadership rumours, compounded this week by reports of a Tory rebels plot to oust Mr Sunak in anticipation of disastrous local elections results.

Cabinet meeting
Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt arrives in Downing Street, London, for a Cabinet meeting (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Nick Smith, shadow deputy leader of the Commons, accused the Government of keeping Commons business “light” in an effort to keep MPs from Parliament in the aftermath of the local elections.

He said: “The internal politics of the Tory party has become so febrile it’s getting in the way of good governance.”

Mr Smith went on: “We begin to see the runners and riders for the next Tory leadership contest.

“(Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt) says she has the Prime Minister’s back, coincidentally she has been supporting her colleagues up and down the country. So following on from schnapps with Shapps, can we look forward to gin with Jenrick or maybe Pimm’s with Penny?

“So I am a Scrabble fan but there’s a new game of political Cluedo coming along. Who could be the one to strike the fatal blow against the Prime Minister?

Mr Smith further stated: “The Prime Minister’s hinted that he may call a general election this summer if his party performs well today, or he may cling on as the clock runs down. You can understand the Prime Minister’s hope that something will crop up but after 14 years in charge, it’s clear that it’s time for change.”

Ms Mordaunt responded: “I have to tell him and break it to him that it’s not going to be Pimm’s with Penny, I’m more of a pints with Penny person.

“But yes, I too have read that I’m to be installed rather like a new boiler into number 10 next week, and I have to say there is as much truth to these stories as there is in Labour’s assurances to its business community that it isn’t actually going to do the things it’s been saying it’s going to do, as it’s promised its union paymasters.

“But let me say again, I support our Prime Minister and I will continue to support him after this weekend and beyond.”

She added: “(Mr Smith) asked about a general election and whether something is going to crop up.

Penny Mordaunt at the Conservative Party Conference 2023
Ms Mordaunt dispelled rumours of a leadership amid reports of a Tory rebels plot to oust Rishi Sunak (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It is the most audacious deception since the Big Bad Wolf donned a nightie and asked Little Red Riding Hood to admire his upper dentures. But unlike Red Riding Hood, the British people have met this wolf before and they remember it doesn’t end well.”

Later in the session Ms Mordaunt clashed with SNP Commons spokesperson Deidre Brock.

Ms Brock referred to a video released by the Home Office which depicted people being detained for flights from the UK to Rwanda.

She said: “Just when you think this Government could stoop no lower, they release a sickening detention video using real life trauma to show their voters how tough they are.

“Who instructed the civil service to produce such a piece? Can we have an apology from the Home Office for their appalling misjudgement in electioneering?”

Ms Mordaunt said the Home Office video was made “for reassurance of the British public that those that do not have right to remain here are deported”.

She said: “There are images of people being put into the back of police vehicles. Scotland has produced quite a few similar videos although the people being put into the back of police cars have been members of the SNP.”

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