Penny Mordaunt

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Penny Mordaunt
Penny Mordaunt Minister.jpg
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Assumed office
11 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Mark Francois
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government
In office
14 July 2014 – 11 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Nick Boles
Succeeded by James Wharton
Member of Parliament
for Portsmouth North
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Sarah McCarthy-Fry
Majority 10,537 (23.2%) in 2015
Personal details
Born Penelope Mary Mordaunt
(1973-03-04) 4 March 1973 (age 49)[1]
Torquay, Devon, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 2013 - present
Rank Generic-Navy-O1.svg Sub-lieutenant
Mordaunt in 2014

Penelope Mary "Penny" Mordaunt[2] (born 4 March 1973) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth North since winning the seat at the 2010 United Kingdom general election. She is currently the only female military veteran in the House of Commons. Mordaunt was appointed as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government in July 2014.[3][4] On 11 May 2015 the Prime Minister appointed her Minister of State for the Armed Forces at the MoD, the first woman to take this post.[5]

Early life

The daughter of a paratrooper,[6] one of twins born in Torquay, Mordaunt was named after the Leander-class frigate HMS Penelope.[6] Her father, who was born in Hilsea barracks, left the Parachute Regiment before the family moved to Portsmouth in 1975, when Mordaunt was aged two, so that he could retrain as a teacher.[6] He taught at Oak Park school and later became a youth worker for Hampshire Council. Her mother was a special needs teacher at several Purbrook schools, and her stepmother is also a local primary school teacher. Mordaunt has two brothers: James, and a younger brother, Edward.[7] She is a descendant of Philip Snowden, the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer.[8]


Mordaunt was educated at Oaklands Roman Catholic Comprehensive School, Waterlooville, Hampshire, and studied drama at the Victoryland Theatre School.[9]

When Mordaunt was 15, her mother died of breast cancer.[6] Mordaunt's twin brother left school, whilst she became carer to Edward. The following year her father was diagnosed with cancer, and survived.[6] 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.[6]

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.[10] She read philosophy at the University of Reading, becoming the first member of her family to attend university.[7]

Early career

After leaving university, Mordaunt began a successful career in business and communications, working in the private, public and charitable sectors. She was communications director for Kensington and Chelsea Council, supported British truckers during the French blockades whilst working for the Freight Transport Association[7] and 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[11] - the largest patient organisation in Europe.

Mordaunt has also worked with several high-profile politicians. Under Prime Minister John Major she was Head of Youth for the Conservative Party, whilst she had a two-year spell as Head of Broadcasting under party leader William Hague.[7] In 2000, she was Head of Foreign Press for George W. Bush's presidential campaign,[12][13] and she worked for the Bush campaign again in 2004.[14] After the 2005 election she worked as a chief of staff for David Willets' leadership campaign.[15]

Portsmouth North candidate and MP

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[7] but lost to Labour candidate Sarah McCarthy-Fry by 1,139 votes.[16] A critic of women-only shortlists,[17][18] Mordaunt was re-selected in January 2006 to contest Portsmouth North for the 2010 general election.[7] She proposed standing for Mayor of London as a commuter mayor.[19]

In the 2010 general election, Mordaunt won the seat with an 8.6% swing from Labour, giving her a 7,289 majority. After her election, she was a member of the Public Bill Committee for the Defence Reform Act 2014.[20] She is a supporter of homeopathy, having signed an early day motion in support of its continued funding on the National Health Service.[21]

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.[22]

When receiving The Spectator magazine's Parliamentarian of the Year award in late 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.[23][24] 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.[25]

Other activities

Mordaunt is a Royal Naval Reservist, serving as an Acting Sub-Lieutenant,[26] at HMS King Alfred on Whale Island, 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."[27] 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!.[28] Whilst some criticised the media appearance, Mordaunt insists that the response was overwhelmingly positive and defended her appearance,[29] by openly 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.[6]

Personal life

Mordaunt lives with her partner Ian Lyon, a classical singer and director of an IT company, who was elected to Portsmouth City Council for Nelson Ward.[7] The couple breed Burmese cats, and have four cats themselves.[30]


  1. Profile,; accessed 8 May 2015.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8744. 13 May 2010.
  3. Christopher Hope (15 July 2014). "Pen portraits of the 10 Conservative women ministers who were promoted in the reshuffle". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Liam Kelly (15 July 2014). "Brandon Lewis promoted to housing and planning minister in reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Penny Mordaunt first woman to become Armed Forces Minister". 11 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Jane Fryer (17 January 2014). "Why our sexiest MP is on Splash! tonight". Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 "Penny Mordaunt profile",; accessed 8 May 2015.
  8. Matthew Bell The Feral Beast: "Cecilia pins her hopes on the Pope",, 24 March 2013
  9. Profile,; accessed 8 May 2015.
  10. "Howard's harem",; accessed 8 May 2015.
  11. Profile: Life of the party – Penny Mordaunt, director of nations, regions and campaigns, Diabetes UK, PR Week, 5 May 2006
  12. The role of Women in McCain's presidential campaign, Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4, 1 September 2008
  13. "Bush's black spin doctor backs Hague", Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph, 14 June 2001
  14. "Tara's top Tories", Tara Hamilton-Miller, New Statesman, 3 January 2008
  15. Tory Leadership Watch: August, BBC, August 2005
  16. "Portsmouth News".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Josie Appleton "How will women vote?", Spiked, 20 April 2005
  18. Marie Woolf "Tories face call for positive discrimination", The Independent, 15 January 2005
  19. "ConservativeHome's London Mayor blog".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Defence Reform Bill 2013-14". Retrieved 17 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Tredinnick, David (29 June 2010). "Early Day Motion No. 342 British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Rowena Mason. "Penny Mordaunt brings the House down after Queen's speech". the Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Chris Mason "Penny Mordaunt speech: Fowl play or light-hearted fun?", BBC News, 1 December 2014
  24. "Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt criticised for smutty Commons speech delivered 'for a dare'", London Evening Standard, 1 December 2014
  25. Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith "Tory MP Penny Mordaunt said 'c**k' several times in Parliament speech as part of Navy dare", The Independent, 30 November 2014
  26. "Diary of the week: Penny Mordaunt". 22 October 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Stephen Stafford "Volunteers' hopes for 'haunted' Wymering Manor", BBC News, 15 February 2013
  28. Brian Reade (18 January 2014). "Penny Mordaunt is just another attention seeker drowning her political credibility in the reality show cesspit". mirror.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Tory MP Penny Mordaunt defends appearing in swimsuit on TV reality show". The Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Glen Owen (25 January 2014). "News Splash! MP Penny Mordaunt". Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sarah McCarthy-Fry
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North