·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
Fri, 15 July 2022 at 5:51 pm
Penny Mordaunt has sought to burnish her credentials as the UK’s next prime minister by staking her claim as a cat lover.
Speaking at an online hustings event for members of the Conservative Party on Friday afternoon, Mordaunt – along with the other four remaining leadership contestants – was asked her greatest weakness.
“I was tempted to say Burmese cats – as I have four – and introducing them into Number 10 might present some challenges with Larry,” she said.
Larry is the resident cat in Number 10, and has gained notoriety for his impromptu appearances outside the famous black door.
Mordaunt went on to say delegating and team work have also been weaknesses in the past.
“I learned over the years to be able to delegate to become more effective. But I think all of us are going to need to build a team of all the talents in the party. We all have different backgrounds. We all have different strengths and weaknesses,” she said.
Mordaunt is currently the bookies’ favourite to win the leadership election with odds of 8/13.
She is the most popular candidate with the Tory membership base, who will vote on the final two candidates over the summer.
Rishi Sunak is the most popular among Conservative MPs, who are deciding on which two candidates progress to the final run-off in a series of votes that comes to a conclusion next week.
When he was asked what his greatest weakness was, the former chancellor suggested it was working too hard. “You’ve got to make sure that, in these jobs – especially the more senior you get – that you don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good,” he said.
Badenoch said she thinks her sense of humour can often come across as “offensive” while Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier, said talking about his time in the military may have become excessive at points.
Current foreign secretary Liz Truss – also one of the favourites to make the final two – said her greatest weakness was being “excessively over enthusiastic”.
On Friday, allies of Truss had to deny involvement in a “black ops” campaign against Mordaunt.
Mordaunt claims to be unfazed by rivals’ attacks, suggesting other candidates are trying to stop her getting into the final two to avoid facing her in the deciding vote of party members.
Criticism of her for being too “woke” on issues such as trans rights, she said, is doomed to fail.
The hustings mark another key opportunity for leadership hopefuls to appeal to their party – with candidates expected to be whittled down to the final two by Thursday next week.
After that, Tory members will vote on their preferred candidate – and the winner will be announced on 5 September.