Penny Mordaunt has turned down Boris Johnson’s attempt to get her out of the Tory leadership race and back him up during a phone call, The Telegraph reveals.
The former prime minister spoke to Ms Mordaunt, his leadership rival, on Sunday afternoon as he tries to build his support base before Monday’s nomination deadline at 2pm.
The Telegraph understands that Ms. Mordaunt noted that most of her supporters would end up supporting Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor, rather than Mr. Johnson if he left the race.
Ms. Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, is also believed to have offered her own suggestion: that Mr. Johnson should instead drop out of school and leave her to face Mr. Sunak alone.
She argued that the only way to stop Sunak’s coronation was for her to become the only other candidate in the race to face the former chancellor.
The call comes as all three leadership candidates – Mr. Johnson, Mr. Sunak and Ms. Mordaunt – and their supporters scramble to maximize support among Conservative MPs.
Mr. Sunak remains the only candidate who has already crossed the threshold of 100 Conservative MPs needed to vote when it comes to public endorsements.
Mr. Johnson’s allies say he has already secured 100 parliament supporters, even though his public tally is under 60 at this time. Ms. Mordaunt states that she too can reach 100, although she has fewer than 25 public endorsements.
On Sunday, Mordaunt said she was a “halfway house” between Liz Truss and Mr. Sunak in the latest leadership contest and said she could join the party.
The former defense secretary and his supporters aired on Sunday to rule out any prospect of his retirement from the race.
He has stated that he is “in this to win it” and will not make a deal with Mr. Johnson or Mr. Sunak in exchange for a cabinet role.
She dismissed reports that she had offered to support Mr. Johnson in exchange for a senior post as “completely false” and stressed that he was “standing to be prime minister”.
But appearing on the BBC’s Sunday program with Laura Kuenssberg, Mordaunt has repeatedly avoided questions about how to allocate expenses if she becomes the new prime minister.
He declined to say whether he would cut health care spending, increase universal credit payments in line with inflation, spend the equivalent of three percent of GDP on defense, or keep the triple freeze on state pensions.
Asked about a deal with Mr. Johnson or Mr. Sunak, he said, “I’m in this to win it. I think it’s important for our party. [that] we have a competition. I am very confident in our numbers “.
But when asked about what spending cuts he would make as prime minister, she said: “I will not talk about the details of that package: what might emerge or decisions that are the responsibility of the Bank of England.”
Pressed that she would cut the NHS, she said: “I won’t get involved in the details of this, but what’s important to your viewers is to understand that I recognize that people will need support, that our health service is. under pressure.
In defense, he said: “I know that not giving you an answer to this question is to my detriment, but I put the country first.”
She said she would not be “attracted” to the triple pension block.
Contested for her support for raising subsidies in line with inflation a few weeks ago, she said: “We have always protected the people, but I have not been involved in the details … What we need to do is remember that our mandate resides in the Manifesto 2019 “.
As prime minister, Mordaunt said she would keep Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor of the Exchequer and has already met him at the Treasury to discuss her plans for spending cuts.
But his presentation to the Conservative Party contains general political ideas without specific commitments on economic policy.
His six key political commitments, as seen by The Telegraph, include a plan to give junior ministers greater “accountability for policies” and “real weight on government.”
He also said it will make better use of government properties of grace and favor, improve the “horizon scanning capability” on national security, and bring experienced personnel to Downing Street.
Suggesting that she would try to cut taxes again when the economy recovers, Mordaunt told the BBC: “I was halfway between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak and I deeply regret that the debate now is about ‘are you for stability? Or low taxes’.
“It’s not the right construct. There are two sides of the same coin.
“You have to have stability to offer low taxes and you have to have low taxes to grow the economy and create that stability.”
Damian Green, one of his main supporters of Conservative MPs, insisted that Ms. Mordaunt will reach the threshold of 100 nominations for Conservative MPs, declaring: “She will win.”
Mr. Green also defended Ms Mordaunt’s judgment in endorsing Ms Truss, saying she “shared the general vision of a smaller and lower fiscal state, but acknowledges the reality of economic stabilization” to ensure the international credibility.