Is Penny Mordaunt set for a return to the Cabinet? Sacked Defence Secretary invited to dinner with Boris Johnson and girlfriend Carrie Symonds
Former Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt looks set for a swift return to the Cabinet after being invited to dinner at No 10 by Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
Ms Mordaunt, who lasted only 85 days in her ‘dream job’ as Defence Secretary before being fired by Mr Johnson on his first day as Prime Minister, was said by friends to be ‘very chipper’ after the dinner.
The move is part of what is being described as Mr Johnson’s ‘rapprochement drive’, with senior Tories claiming the Prime Minister is even considering inviting George Osborne to join his Government.
The former Chancellor, now editor of London’s Evening Standard, was a leading player in the 2016 Remain campaign, but threw the weight of his newspaper behind Mr Johnson’s bid to become Tory leader.
Ms Mordaunt, who lasted only 85 days in her ‘dream job’ as Defence Secretary before being fired by Mr Johnson on his first day as Prime Minister, was said by friends to be ‘very chipper’ after the dinner with Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds
Mr Johnson is understood to have confided that he could use Mr Osborne’s electioneering skills – he was the brains behind the Tories’ majority in the 2015 General Election – but that ‘Dom [Cummings] would not allow it’.
Mr Johnson is said to have been impressed by the calm and loyal way in which Ms Mordaunt, a former naval reservist, reacted to her shock sacking in July.
She restricted herself to a magazine article in which she wrote: ‘I’m fired. Job done. Ours is not to reason why. Good command cheerfully accepts all missions with humour and loyalty.’ No 10 is conscious that out of Mr Johnson’s top eight Cabinet Ministers, only one is female – Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Ms Mordaunt was appointed by Theresa May as Britain’s first ever female Defence Secretary.
Mr Johnson (pictured with girlfriend Carrie Symonds) is said to have been impressed by the calm and loyal way in which Ms Mordaunt, a former naval reservist, reacted to her shock sacking in July
Although the 46-year-old Portsmouth North MP backed Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership following Mrs May’s resignation, as a Brexiteer she had thought that her job was safe.
In the event, it was first offered to Mr Hunt, before being given to Ben Wallace, a veteran ally of Mr Johnson. Former Tory leader William Hague warned Mr Johnson that he could regret sacking Ms Mordaunt because she could have been a ‘useful ally in the tempestuous weeks to come’.
First elected to Parliament in 2010, Ms Mordaunt is probably best known outside Westminster for donning her swimsuit in the TV show Splash! in 2014, when she joined celebrities to be trained by Olympic diver Tom Daley.
The daughter of a paratrooper-turned-teacher, she served as an acting sub-lieutenant of the Portsmouth-based HMS King Alfred.
Her mother, a teacher, died from breast cancer when Ms Mordaunt was 15.
Educated at a local comprehensive, Ms Mordaunt later studied philosophy at Reading University.
She was once accused of trivialising Parliament after admitting that she had smuggled repeated mentions of the word ‘cock’ into a Commons speech as part of a bet with fellow reservists.