Lord Frost launches extraordinary salvo at Penny Mordaunt after Tory leadership surge saying she was not ‘tough’ in talks with the EU and he told the PM to sack her
Lord Frost spearheaded an assault on new bookies’ favourite for the Tory leadership Penny Mordaunt today.
The former Brexit minister warned the trade minister is not ‘tough’ enough to take on the EU and had not ‘mastered the detail’ when she deputised for him during negotiations.
He also revealed that he was ‘surprised’ she is riding so high in the race for No10 because he had been forced to ask Boris Johnson to shift her to another role.
The intervention came as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tries to regain the upper hand over Ms Mordaunt, who came a shock second in the first ballot of MPs yesterday.
Polls have also suggested she could win the top job by defeating any potential rivals in a head-to-head vote by Tory members.
But Ms Mordaunt’s new status is bringing intense scrutiny and she is already facing questions, including on whether she had changed her ‘woke’ views on trans rights in order to win support.
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost told TalkTV he was ‘surprised she is where she is in this leadership race.’
‘I have worked with Penny… She was my deputy, notionally more than really in the Brexit talks last year,’ he said.
‘I’m sorry to say this, that I felt she did not master the detail that was necessary in the negotiations last year.
Lord Frost saying he asked for Penny Mordaunt to be sacked as his Brexit deputy and has ‘grave reservations’
Ms Mordaunt came a shock second in the first ballot of MPs yesterday
Treasury minister Simon Clarke pointed to Lord Frost’s ‘serious’ warning and said the party needed a leader who had been ‘tested’
‘She wouldn’t always deliver tough messages to the European Union when that was necessary. And I’m afraid she wasn’t sort of fully accountable.
‘She wasn’t always visible. Sometimes I didn’t even know where she was. And I’m afraid this became such a problem that after six months, I had to ask the Prime Minister to move her on and find somebody else to support me.’
Lord Frost said a PM needed to be ‘tough’ and ‘able to lead’, adding: ‘I’m talking only about my own experience with her, but on the basis of what I saw, I’m afraid I would have grave reservations about that.’
One campaign source told MailOnline: ‘Just because Penny voted for Brexit doesn’t mean she can be trusted to deliver it. Her delivery record post-Brexit is incredibly underwhelming – can she be trusted to get things done?’
Treasury minister Simon Clarke pointed to Lord Frost’s ‘serious’ warning and said the party needed a leader who had been ‘tested’.
Another ally of Ms Truss accused Ms Mordaunt of ‘telling lies’ over her views about gender issues. ‘She is turning up at hustings claiming she never pushed trans rights when she was equalities minister when there are people in government who know that is not true,’ said the ally.
A YouGov poll found the run-off margin for Penny Mordaunt against Rishi Sunak could be 67 per cent to 28 per cent, while the former Chancellor could lose 59 per cent to 25 per cent against Liz Truss
‘She is telling lies and if she gets in she will revert to type and split the party.’
However, Ms Truss said at her launch: ‘I certainly won’t be making any disparaging comments about my fellow candidates in the race.’
David Davis accused the Foreign Secretary of deploying the ‘dark arts’, while a source close to Ms Mordaunt told MailOnline: ‘Penny has nothing but respect for Lord Frost. He did a huge amount to assist our negotiations until he resigned from Government.
‘Penny will always fight for Brexit and always has.’
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