|The Right Honourable
|Secretary of State for International Development|
9 November 2017
|Prime Minister||Theresa May|
|Preceded by||Priti Patel|
|Minister of State for Disabled People|
15 July 2016 – 9 November 2017
|Prime Minister||Theresa May|
|Preceded by||Justin Tomlinson|
|Succeeded by||Sarah Newton|
|Minister of State for the Armed Forces|
11 May 2015 – 15 July 2016
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Mark Francois|
|Succeeded by||Mike Penning|
|Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government|
14 July 2014 – 11 May 2015
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Nick Boles|
|Succeeded by||James Wharton|
|Member of Parliament
for Portsmouth North
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Sarah McCarthy-Fry|
|Born||Penelope Mary Mordaunt
4 March 1973
Torquay, Devon, England
(m. 1999; div. 2000)
|Alma mater||University of Reading|
|Years of service||2013 – present|
|Rank||Acting Sub Lieutenant|
Penelope Mary Mordaunt (born 4 March 1973) is a Conservative politician in the United Kingdom. She was first elected as the member of parliament (MP) for Portsmouth North at the 2010 general election. Mordaunt was appointed Secretary of State for International Development on 9 November 2017.
Mordaunt was born in Torquay, Devon and studied philosophy at the University of Reading. Before entering parliament, she worked in business and communications, working in the private, public and charitable sectors, including as director of communications for Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council. She is currently the only female MP who is a Royal Naval Reservist.
Mordaunt was appointed as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government in July 2014. In May 2015, prime minister David Cameron appointed her Minister of State for the Armed Forces at the MoD, the first woman to take this post.
In July 2016, the new Prime Minister Theresa May appointed her to a newly created Minister of State position at the Department for Work and Pensions. She was appointed Secretary of State for International Development in November 2017 following the resignation of Priti Patel.
The daughter of a former paratrooper, one of twins born in Torquay, Devon, Mordaunt was named after the Leander-class frigate HMS Penelope. Her father, who had been born in Hilsea Barracks, had left the Parachute Regiment and trained as a teacher.
Mordaunt has two brothers: James, and a younger brother, Edward. She is a descendant of Philip Snowden, the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer. Angela Lansbury is her grandmother's cousin.
Mordaunt was educated at Oaklands Roman Catholic School Academy, Waterlooville, Hampshire, and studied drama at the Victoryland Theatre School.
When Mordaunt was 15, her mother died of breast cancer. Mordaunt's twin brother left school, so she became Edward's prime caregiver. The following year her father was diagnosed with cancer, from which he recovered. To pay her way through sixth-form college, Mordaunt became a magician's assistant to Portsmouth magician Will Ayling, once president of The Magic Circle.
She has attributed her interest in politics to her experiences working in hospitals and orphanages of post-revolutionary Romania in her gap year, after the 1989 revolution. She graduated from the University of Reading with a BA in philosophy in 1995, becoming the first member of her family to attend university.
After graduating, Mordaunt began a career in business and communications, working in the private, public and charitable sectors. She was director of communications for Kensington and Chelsea Council and supported British truckers during the French blockades while working for the Freight Transport Association. She was a director at the Community Fund which merged administratively with the New Opportunities Fund to create the Big Lottery Fund. In 2006, Mordaunt became Director of Diabetes UK.
Mordaunt has also worked with several high-profile politicians. Under Prime Minister John Major she was Head of Youth for the Conservative Party, and also had a two-year spell as Head of Broadcasting under party leader William Hague. In 2000, she was Head of Foreign Press for George W. Bush's presidential campaign, and she worked for the Bush campaign again in 2004. After the 2005 election she worked as chief of staff for David Willetts's aborted leadership campaign.
Early Parliamentary career
In November 2003, Mordaunt was selected as Conservative candidate to contest Portsmouth North in the 2005 general election. She managed to attain a 5.5% swing towards the Conservatives but lost to Labour candidate Sarah McCarthy-Fry by 1,139 votes. A critic of women-only shortlists, Mordaunt was re-selected in January 2006 to contest Portsmouth North for the 2010 general election. She proposed standing for Mayor of London as a commuter mayor.
After her election, she was a member of the Public Bill Committee for the Defence Reform Act 2014. She is a supporter of homeopathy, having signed an early day motion in support of its continued funding on the National Health Service.
In 2014, Mordaunt became only the second woman in Elizabeth II's reign (the first being Lady Tweedsmuir in 1957) to propose the loyal address in reply to the Queen's speech from the throne, and made reference to Tweedsmuir's comments about wanting more female involvement in Parliament. Mordaunt remarked “I have benefited from some excellent training by the Royal Navy, but on one occasion I felt that it was not as bespoke as it might have been. Fascinating though it was, I felt that the lecture and practical demonstration on how to care for the penis and testicles in the field failed to appreciate that some of us attending had been issued with the incorrect kit.”
When receiving The Spectator magazine's Parliamentarian of the Year award in November 2014, Mordaunt revealed that she had delivered a speech in the House of Commons just before the Easter recess in 2013 on poultry welfare so as to use the word "cock", as a forfeit for a misdemeanour during Naval Reserve training. Mordaunt used the word “cock” six times and “lay” or “laid” five times. Following her admission, she was accused by Labour MP Kate Hoey of trivialising parliament.
In a May 2016 BBC Television interview during the run-up to the EU membership referendum, Mourdant denied that the UK had a veto on Turkey joining the EU, despite Article 49 of the EU constitution requiring a unanimous vote of all 28 members of the General Council to allowing accession of a candidate state, thus creating a power of veto by a dissenting member nation. She supported the leave, or Brexit, option in the campaign. Prime Minister David Cameron stated her opinion was "completely wrong" and Guy Verhofstadt called her statement "contemptible".
Secretary of State for International Development
In November 2017, Mordaunt was appointed Secretary of State for International Development, after Priti Patel resigned over a series of apparently secret and unauthorised meetings she had with Israeli politicians while on holiday.
In February 2018, an investigation by the Times newspaper revealed allegations of misconduct by Oxfam staff in operating in Haiti, in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Mordaunt argued that Oxfam, which received £32m in Government funds in the previous financial year, had failed in its "moral leadership" over the "scandal". She also said that Oxfam did "absolutely the wrong thing" by not reporting the detail of the allegations to the government. Mordaunt felt it was important for aid organisations to report offences, because she believed that there were paedophiles "targeting" the charity sector in order to carry out predatory activities.
She is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, a member of the British Astronomical Association, and she is involved in many charities active in the Portsmouth area, including Southsea Greenhouse, Hilsea Lido, The Patey Centre, and Wymering Manor, about which she said: "We wouldn't have embarked on the project if we weren't confident it would be sustainable and could provide a community facility which will be used for many many years. Lots of people really see its potential – it could be a wonderful space." Mordaunt is a patron of Victoria Cross Trust, as well as an ambassador for Portsmouth Scouts.
In 2014, Mordaunt appeared on reality television programme Splash!. Although some criticised the media appearance, Mordaunt insists that the response was overwhelmingly positive and defended her appearance, stating that she was donating all of her £10,000 appearance fee plus any additional sponsorship to charity: £7,000 towards the renovation of her local lido; the rest to four Armed Services charities.
Mordaunt was married for six months to Paul Murray who was a fellow student at Reading University. Mordaunt until recently lived with her partner, Ian Lyon, a classical singer and director of an IT company, who was elected to Portsmouth City Council for Nelson Ward. The couple bred Burmese cats.
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- Official website
- Penny Mordaunt at the Conservative Party
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Penny Mordaunt on Twitter
- Penny Mordaunt on Facebook
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North
|Minister of State for the Armed Forces
|Secretary of State for International Development