Penny Mordaunt is the Heir to Boris Johnson’s Lies
One of the leading candidates to become Prime Minister is refusing to withdraw a series of false claims she has made during the contest, reports Adam Bienkov
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Boris Johnson’s lies about ‘Partygate’ ultimately caused his downfall as Prime Minister.
Conservative MPs realised that the collapse in public trust in the Government caused by the scandal would be impossible to recover from, unless they changed leader.
Throughout his downfall, Johnson repeatedly refused to admit his own dishonesty, leading voters to eventually decide that they could no longer trust him.
It is therefore remarkable that one of the leading contenders to replace him appears determined to repeat his mistake.
Penny Mordaunt, who is widely tipped to make the final round of this contest, has in the space of just a couple of weeks made a series of false claims that rival those of Johnson’s.
‘We Didn’t Have a Veto’
Mordaunt’s most egregious false claim is that the UK did not have a veto to prevent Turkey from joining the EU.
Mordaunt first made this false claim way back in 2016 when she was a Defence Minister in David Cameron’s Government.
Her claim, which she made as a representative of the official Leave campaign, was entirely untrue. The UK did have a veto and could have used it under the unlikely scenario of the EU attempting to bring Turkey in during his premiership.
Mordaunt’s claim was particularly egregious, given that it coincided with the Leave Campaign’s other false claim, pasted on posters across the country, that Turkey “is joining the EU” and allowing its population of 76 million people to come to the UK.
None of this was true then, and it remains untrue now. However, when asked to withdraw it during a series of interviews in the past week, Mordaunt has instead continued to insist that her original claim was correct.
The Trade Minister again told the BBC on Sunday that “we didn’t have a veto”.
When it was pointed out by the host Sophie Raworth that this was entirely untrue, Mordaunt defended her original claim, suggesting that it “says it as I see it”.
Like Johnson who claimed that there were “no parties” in Downing Street during lockdown, despite attending multiple parties himself, Mordaunt’s claim only works if you accept that she exists within a parallel universe in which her own perceptions of what is true, and what is false, trumps all observable reality.
The NHS is Failing to Use the ‘top 180 Innovations’
The second false claim made by Mordaunt in recent days is in some ways even more flagrant. On Friday, the Trade Minister told the Channel 4 debate that the NHS was failing to use any of the top 180 medical innovations around the world.
She told the audience that: “the top 180 innovations that we’ve had on medical devices and all sorts of stuff, that’s improving care around the world, how many are used in the NHS? None”.
Mordaunt’s campaign repeated this bizarre claim in a series of tweets on her account.
Yet when social media users later began to question this claim, the tweets were deleted without explanation. Requests by Byline Times and others to her campaign to explain her original claim, and its deletion, were also ignored.
‘I’m the Only One that can Beat Keir Starmer’
Mordaunt made another false claim during the ITV debate on Sunday, in which she repeatedly suggested that polling proved she was the only candidate capable of beating the Labour party.
“The polling shows that I’m the only one that can beat Keir Starmer”, Mordaunt told the audience.
This is simply untrue. The polling on both the ITV debate and Channel 4 debate both put Mordaunt in third place behind Rishi Sunak and Tom Tugendhat as the candidate who most impressed voters. She also came third in last night’s debate on which candidate would make the best Prime Minister. Separate polling by pollsters JLB partners suggested that Rishi Sunak was best placed to win over voters across the country, with Mordaunt coming a poor third place behind Tom Tugendhat.
Other Questionable Claims
Mordaunt has also come under fire during this campaign over her stance on trans rights, with newspapers reporting on leaked documents which they suggest contradict her claims about her previous positions.
Her claims on tax have also been contradicted during the debates. On Friday, the frontrunner Rishi Sunak accused her of “fairytale” economics after she claimed that her planned cut to fuel duty would be “self-funding”, as more people would buy fuel as a result. Her team were later forced to clarify that this was not the case.