Who is Penny Mordaunt? The Tory MP going head to head with Angela Rayner (2024)

Penny Mordaunt is gearing up to go head-to-head with Labour’s Angela Rayner to try and convince the UK that the Conservatives should stay in Number 10.

The Leader of the House of Commons will be facing the Labour deputy in the BBC’s first televised General Election debate this evening.

Members of the audience will be able to ask questions of representatives from all major parties as Mishal Husain hosts the debate.

Stephen Flynn from the SNP, Daisy Cooper from the Lib Dems, Carla Denyer from the Green Party, Nigel Farage from Reform UK, and Rhun ap Iorwerth of Plaid will also take part.

But who is Ms Mordaunt and what is her political background?

We take a closer look at the woman chosen to represent the Tories in the lead-up to one of the party’s most crucial elections in recent history.

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Who is Penny Mordaunt?

Penelope ‘Penny’ Mordaunt was born in Torquay, Devon in 1973. She has two brothers: her twin James, and a younger brother named Edward.

Ms Mordaunt was educated at Oaklands Roman Catholic Comprehensive School in Waterlooville, Hampshire and studied drama at the Victoryland Theatre School.

To pay for her university degree, she worked at a Johnson and Johnson’s factory and as a magician’s assistant.

She graduated from the University of Reading with upper second class honours in Philosophy, before working in various sectors, including as Head of Foreign Press for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

Mordaunt is a Royal Naval Reservist and began serving as an acting sub-lieutenant in 2010 at shore establishment HMS King Alfred on Whale Island.

She was made an honorary commander in 2019 and an honorary captain in 2021.

What is Penny Mordaunt’s constituency?

Penny Mordaunt is a member of the Conservative Party and an MP representing Portsmouth North since 2010.

She was an active member of the party before she was elected. She was the Head of Youth for the party under John Major and went on to become the Tory Head of Broadcasting under William Hague.

Ms Mordaunt first ran for parliament in her hometown of Portsmouth in 2005 but lost to Labour’s Sarah McCarthy-Fry.

She stood again in 2010 and won the seat of Portsmouth North with a majority of more than 7,000 votes.

She achieved ministerial rank under David Cameron in 2014 and 2016 and was appointed as Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health when Theresa May took power in 2016.

In 2019, she became the first female Secretary of State for Defence – but was demoted under Boris Johnson’s leadership.

In 2020, she became the Paymaster General, and in 2021 was instead appointed as Minister of State at the Department for International Trade.

She was one of the candidates during the Conservative leadership race back in summer 2022 but was eliminated in the fifth round.

Following Liz Truss’s victory on September 6, Ms Mordaunt was appointed as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council.

She kept her positions following Ms Truss’s brief time as PM once Rishi Sunak took the reins.

What does the Leader of the House of Commons do?

The Leader of the House of Commons is a cabinet member within the ruling party in UK government.

Their main role is to organise government business within the House of Commons.

Ms Mordaunt is responsible for organising debates and discussion of bills, while also providing time for backbench business to be discussed.

She must plan and supervise the government’s legislative programme, chair the cabinet committee on parliamentary business and legislation, and preparing weekly schedules for Commons business.

Who are Penny Mordaunt’s parents?

Her father, John Mordaunt, was a former paratrooper, while her mother, Jennifer, was a special needs teacher at several Purbrook schools.

Through her mother, Ms Mordaunt is related to Philip Snowden, who was the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Actress Dame Angela Lansbury is her grandmother’s cousin, meaning she is also distantly related to former Labour Party leader George Lansbury.

John, born at Hilsea Barracks, served in the Parachute Regiment. He went on to train as a teacher and later became a youth worker for Hampshire County Council. Ms Mordaunt has said she was named after HMS Penelope.

Her mother died of cancer when she was 15-years-old, and her father was diagnosed with cancer the following year (from which he recovered), leaving Mordaunt as her youngest sibling’s primary caregiver.

Is Penny Mordaunt married?

Ms Mordaunt is protective of her private life and it’s not known if she’s currently in a relationship with anyone.

She had been married to Paul Murray, who she met while reading philosophy at the University of Reading in 1990, as a mature student.

They married in 1999 but divorced a year later.

After this she was in a long-term relationship with classical singer Ian Lyon, with whom she reportedly bred Burmese cats.

However the pair split up in 2016, and they didn’t have any children.

Why was Penny Mordaunt at the coronation?

As Lord President of the Privy Council, Ms Mordaunt presided over the Accession Ceremony of King Charles III following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

She’s heavily involved in royal proceedings due to her Privy Council role, and carried the 17th century Sword of State into Westminster Abbey as part of the coronation procession.

She was also involved in the presentation of the regalia during the investiture and crowning ceremony, where the Jewelled Sword of Offering was blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and presented to King Charles by her.

Ms Mordaunt is the first woman to serve as Lord President of the Privy Council and was therefore the first woman to perform this duty at a coronation.

What time is her debate with Angela Rayner?

The debate between Penny Mordaunt, Angela Rayner, and representatives from the five other major parties will take place on Friday, June 7 from 7.30pm.

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Who is Penny Mordaunt? The Tory MP going head to head with Angela Rayner (2024)


Who is the new deputy leader of the Labour party? ›

Angela Rayner (née Bowen; born 28 March 1980) is a British politician who has been the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party since 2020, and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities since 2023.

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Mordaunt has two brothers: her twin, James, and a younger brother, Edward. She was educated at Oaklands Roman Catholic School in Waterlooville, Hampshire, and studied drama at the Victoryland Theatre School.

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Sir Keir Rodney Starmer KCB KC (/ˈkɪər/; born 2 September 1962) is a British politician and barrister who has served as Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party since 2020.

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