Mordaunt insists she is getting on with her job as Sunak prepares to face MPs

Mordaunt insists she is getting on with her job as Sunak prepares to face MPs

Penny Mordaunt insisted she was “getting on with my job” amid speculation she is being lined up as a replacement for Rishi Sunak.

The Commons Leader was questioned about her loyalty to the Prime Minister following reports she could replace him if Mr Sunak faced a no confidence vote before the general election.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hinted the Prime Minister could go to the country in October, but Tory plotters may seek to oust him before then if the party’s fortunes do not improve.

Mr Sunak will face Prime Minister’s Questions and then a behind-closed-doors appearance in front of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee on Wednesday.

Ms Mordaunt is reportedly being considered as a unity candidate who could be acceptable to both the Tory right and moderates if there is a last-ditch change in leaders before the election.

Asked if she supported the Prime Minister, she told reporters: “I’m getting on with my job and I recommend it.”

Mr Sunak expects to hold an election in the second half of 2024 and Mr Hunt appeared to indicate that October was the most likely month as he gave evidence to a House of Lords committee.

Speaking about departmental funding he said: “This particular spending review has to be complete before next April, when the next financial year starts.

“And of course if the general election is in October that will mean it’s very very tight and that is why we are thinking in advance about the most important element of that spending review which is the productivity element.”

Meanwhile a former Cabinet minister suggested the Tories’ current polling woes could not solely be blamed on the Prime Minister.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was a close ally of Liz Truss, said the party had to stick with Mr Sunak until the election.


Labour has an average poll lead of around 20 points, fuelling Tory unease in a general election year.

But Sir Jacob said: “In defence of Rishi Sunak, it is quite hard for a leader at this stage in his leadership to be significantly more popular than his party.

“The Conservative Party’s popularity fell before Rishi Sunak’s did, so I don’t think we can hold him personally responsible.”

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace has said it is “too late” to replace Mr Sunak and Tory candidates at the election just had to “march towards the sound of the guns”.

Sir Jacob echoed that view: “In an election year you need to present to the voters a leader who can be the prime minister for the next parliament.

“We need to just get on with it, and so I think Ben Wallace’s advice is wise and we should listen to it.”

He told Times Radio the Tories needed to “deal with the current situation and not what might have been”, adding: “I think Rishi Sunak is an honest, decent and intelligent man who is doing the job effectively.

“Times at the moment seem to be against him but things have changed before.”

Cabinet minister Lucy Frazer said Mr Sunak was “the right man to lead the country”.

Asked whether Ms Mordaunt would be a good leader, Ms Frazer told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We’ve got lots of excellent talent on our benches but the Prime Minister, who I worked with when he was chancellor and obviously I’m in Cabinet with now, I think does an outstanding job.

“He is full of integrity.

“He has a plan which will deliver, which is already delivering, and has huge knowledge about the economy…

“So I think he’s absolutely the right man to lead the country and he has shown he can deliver across the board, but importantly on that key issue, which is the economy.”