Tory leadership hopeful Mordaunt breaks silence with 'obvious dig at Boris' as PM on brink

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The International Trade Minister and former Defence Secretary is one of the bookies’ favourites to take over from Boris Johnson should he be forced out. While Ms Mordaunt has not commented on the speculation, fellow Tory MPs took note that instead of defending the Prime Minister this morning she instead Tweeted about her constituency city of Portsmouth. Then Ms Mordaunt wrote a piece on the 78th anniversary of D-Day today which some colleagues believe contained clear messages suggesting she is ready to make a bid.

The piece referenced her constituency in Portsmouth where D-Day was launched but also made a point of praising former US President and Allied Commander in Chief Dwight Eisenhower’s philosophy of being “the servant leader.”

She noted of him ahead of D-Day: “In truth, the generals are not where the power really lies in any endeavour because leaders are not just there to do something. Eisenhower was there because he was someone. He was trusted. He was flexible. He inspired confidence.”

In what a few of her colleagues took as a subtle dig at Mr Johnson she also praised Eisenhower’s competence as a leader.

“Confidence and competence are easily confused, but they are not the same.

“Confidence without competence is a dangerous combination, but Eisenhower also knew how to build a team.”

She went on: “He had excellent planners and organisers, but he also had excellent improvisation.

“He’s famous for saying that “plans are useless, but planning is vital”, no wonder he went on to be a successful politician.

“Eisenhower embodied what has become known as Servant Leadership and it is defined by the Four ‘H’s of Happy, Humble, Honest and Hard-working.”

One Conservative MP messaged Express.co.uk: “This is a none too subtle leadership bid.

“Competence versus confidence? That looks like an obvious dig against Boris [Johnson]”

Another noted: “Servant leadership would definitely be a change of style. Maybe she sees herself as another Eisenhower.”

READ MORE: Tory plotters’ 13 point plan to destroy Boris in confidence vote

A leading Tory insider messaged Express.co.uk: “Please can you find out if Penny Mordaunt is going to launch a leadership bid.

“Her Tweeting on Portsmouth has got tongues wagging.”

If she really is planning on standing, Ms Mordaunt would face stiff competition with former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Affairs select committee chairman Tom Tugendhat and a number of cabinet ministers all reportedly ready to go with campaign teams.

A Government special adviser said: “That not particularly subtle at all. She [Mordaunt] needs to be careful making those comments.

“If she feels so strong she either needs to resign or be loyal not make veiled comments like this.”

Currently, the favourites are Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Mr Hunt but Ms Mordaunt is listed as fourth favourite behind Mr Tugendhat in third.

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