Penny Mordaunt facing backlash over new post-Brexit trade announcement

Penny Mordaunt facing backlash over new post-Brexit trade announcement

07/19/2022

‘Part-time’ Penny Mordaunt facing backlash over her fronting of new post-Brexit trade announcement tomorrow as Tory leadership contest reaches critical phase

  • Penny Mordaunt at centre of row over announcement of new trade agreement  
  • She is said to be facing a backlash against plans for her to front announcement
  • It follows stinging criticism of Ms Mordaunt’s work ethic as a trade minister
  • She is among the final three candidates to in the race to replace Boris Johnson

Penny Mordaunt is at the centre of a row over whether she should be able to announce a new trade agreement during the Tory leadership contest.

The trade minister, who is among the final three candidates to replace Boris Johnson, has been involved in Government efforts to sign post-Brexit agreements with individual US states.

But, although a new deal with North Carolina is set to be unveiled tomorrow, Ms Mordaunt is facing a backlash over whether she should be able to front the announcement.

Officials at the Department for International Trade (DIT) have reportedly voiced concerns at Ms Mordaunt taking centre stage during a crucial time in the race to become Prime Minister.

Tomorrow will also see a final round of voting among Tory MPs to whittle the remaining trio of leadership candidates down to a final pair.

And it follows stinging criticism of Ms Mordaunt’s work ethic as a minister, with the Tory contender accused of going missing from her ministerial duties.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt is among the final three Tory leadership candidates in the race to replace Boris Johnson

Internationational Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan claimed Ms Mordaunt had spent the last few months focussing on her leadership campaign

Internationational Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who is Ms Mordaunt’s boss, has moaned about how the Tory contender had ‘not been available’ at various times and left other ministers to ‘pick up the pieces’.

Ms Trevelyan, who had been backing now-defeated leadership candidate Tom Tugendhat, even claimed Ms Mordaunt had instead spent the last few months focussing on preparations for her leadership campaign.

The row has seen Ms Mordaunt dubbed ‘part-time Penny’. 

She is now facing claims she skipped a trip to Indiana earlier this year in order to sign a previous trade deal.

One DIT official told The Sun that allowing Ms Mordaunt to front the North Carolina announcement tomorrow would be ‘a complete systems failure’.

They added: ‘Trying to take credit for the North Carolina deal in the middle of the race is totally inappropriate.

‘Not least because she could not be a***d to go sign the deal with Indiana in May.’

Another source told the newspaper: ‘Penny is trying to neutralise the shirking minister stuff and it’s cutting up rough in the department.’

At the end of May, DIT revealed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on trade with Indiana.

Ms Mordaunt’s fellow minister, Ranil Jayawardena, travelled to the US state for the formal announcement.

The announcement came during the Hay literature festival, which Ms Mordaunt has been revealed to have travelled to by private helicopter.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak are Ms Mordaunt’s remaining rivals in the Tory leadership race 

Ms Mordaunt’s team have hit back at claims she had been taking her eye off her ministerial duties.

A spokeswoman said: ‘Even in these busy times, Penny has been focused on ensuring that we take advantage of the benefits of Brexit by securing a trade deal with North Carolina and other US States, which will boost, GDP, growth and jobs.

‘The important work of Government must continue, and Penny will continue to lead the way in ensuring the UK secures state level deals with the US.’

Today, Ms Mordaunt posted a photo of herself meeting with Marisa Lago, US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. 

‘I shared details of our state-level strategy which is progressing at pace,’ she wrote on Twitter.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak are Ms Mordaunt’s remaining rivals in the Tory leadership race.

The Foreign Office have continued to promote Ms Truss’s activities during the contest. 

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