Penny Mordaunt says Hunt will remain Chancellor if she becomes PM

Penny Mordaunt: Continuity is absolutely vital

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Ms Mordaunt said: “The reason why I have been in the Treasury, been through [Mr Hunt’s] plans with him, I’ve sat and been briefed by him because I think it is helpful to set out what is going to happen. 

“At the end of this coming week, we will have the leadership contest done. We will have a new prime minister, and then the following Monday, the chancellor will deliver his statement. 

“I think it is incredibly important that the timetable stays. I am the candidate that has said Hunt must stay as chancellor because that smooth transition of power and that continuity is absolutely vital. 

“What I am not going to do is talk about the details of that package, what might come forward, or decisions that are in the Bank of England’s remit. That would be wrong. We have just got to put the country first here.” 

She later added: “I’m very confident about the progress we are making. I say to you that I’m in this to win it.”

She also said a report that she had discussed pulling out with Johnson in return for the promise of a job was “completely false”.

Despite being the only candidate to declare so far, Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt is far behind her potential rivals on public support from MPs, with just 21 to Mr Johnson’s 44 and Mr Sunak’s 113, according to the latest tally. 

Setting out her plan to “unite the party and the country” in the Express, she warned the Tories had “let ourselves become distracted by internal disputes”.

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Ms Mordaunt used her pitch to stress the need to “make Brexit work”, “focus on the potential of all our citizens” and “defend our Union and its territorial integrity”, pledging her support for reforming the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol.

She insisted she is not seeking the top job for an “easy ride”, and vowed to build a government which “draws from all our best talent”.

Ms Mordaunt ran a reasonably successful campaign during the summer contest but was pipped by Liz Truss to the final two after backers of Suella Braverman switched to the former foreign secretary. 

In the final three MP vote in June, Ms Mordaunt managed to win the support of 105 MPs. 

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Tory MPs will vote on Monday as part of the new contest, and two candidates will be put forward to the party membership unless one pulls out, with a result being announced on Friday.

Candidates have until 2pm on Monday to secure the 100 nominations, limiting the ballot to a maximum of three candidates.

Supporters of Mr Johnson believe that if he can make it to the last two, he will win in the final online ballot of party activists with whom he remains hugely popular. Rishi Sunak has already crossed the 100 MP mark. 

Some MPs have warned they would resign the Tory whip and sit in the Commons as independents if Mr Johnson returned to Downing Street.

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