13th Jun 2023

“Party must focus on ‘building more and taxing less’.”

Drop culture war battles, Penny Mordaunt tells Tories.

Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt admitted the Conservative party had not been true to itself or the UK’s values in “recent history” as she urged the Tories to drop its culture war obsession.

The former leadership contender urged her party to spend less time on divisive issues and focus on “building more and taxing less” during an appearance at a Margaret Thatcher conference in London on Monday.

Arguing that the electorate had not yet “sealed the deal” with Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour, Ms Mordaunt said: “I think there’s all to play for and I think that historic fifth term is within our grasp.

“We have to be true not just to ourselves as conservatives but the values of the people of this country, and we haven’t been in recent history,” said the Commons leader, one of the favourites to succeed Rishi Sunak as Tory leader.

In a criticism of some of her colleagues, Ms Mordaunt told the Centre for Policy Studies’ (CPS) Margaret Thatcher Conference that pursuing a culture war “doesn’t help”.

She said: “It amazes me that in both the US and the UK, even though we know it’s a failed model of leadership, the top guy is always the focus whereas actually, it’s the team, and I don’t mean the cabinet and the parliamentary party, it’s the country.”

Revealing that she had offered Mr Sunak some advice, Ms Mordaunt said: “I said to the prime minister, your team is the nation, and we have to reframe our story in those terms.

“And that’s why the culture wars and all of that doesn’t help because we’re here for everyone … And that’s why I am unapologetic about talking about building more and taxing less and not talking about culture wars because it doesn’t move the country forward.”