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‘Decent person’ Johnson occasionally like Frank Spencer in china shop – Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt said Boris Johnson is a ‘decent person’ and ‘cares a great deal about women and girls’.

Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By David Hughes, PA Political Editor & George Ryan, Political Reporter

Female Tory MPs have defended Boris Johnson over attacks on his character, with former defence secretary Penny Mordaunt insisting he was a “decent person”.

Ms Mordaunt, who was sacked by the Prime Minister when he entered office, acknowledged his style occasionally meant he was like blundering Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em character Frank Spencer.

But she said he cares a “great deal” about the problems facing women and girls.

He occasionally has the style of Frank Spencer in a china shop. But he’s a decent person. I think he cares a great deal about women and girls Penny Mordaunt on Boris Johnson

At a Conservative Party conference fringe event in Manchester, Ms Mordaunt said: “He is not the individual that he is quite often painted as being.

“He occasionally has the style of Frank Spencer in a china shop.

“But he’s a decent person. I think he cares a great deal about women and girls. And certainly that was my experience when he was foreign secretary.”

Redditch MP Rachel Maclean said: “The original feminists talked about ‘deeds, not words’. And on that basis, I absolutely judge the Prime Minister to be a feminist.

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Boris Johnson with his partner Carrie Symonds (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“And if you look at his record, and what he’s done for women – I would point to the record on female genital mutilation, he has been the foremost champion of putting resources into (tackling) that around the world.”

At the event, organised by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, Brexiteer Ms Mordaunt defended the European Union referendum – and suggested that there should be more public votes in future.

She acknowledged the issue had hit Tory morale, saying: “I think some of our members and some people in the country have lost a bit of pride in ourselves.

“One group of people are furious that the referendum result has not been delivered.

“And the other group of people are appalled that people could have contemplated voting that way in the first place.”

She said people were concerned that the Tories had “trashed our brand”.

But she added: “It was something the nation needed us to do.”

Speaking at a fringe event, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss was asked if she agreed with her colleague Matt Hancock’s statement about the claims.

The Health Secretary had earlier played down the report saying there were “always lots of other stories in papers”.

Addressing the Times Red Box event, Ms Truss said: “I haven’t read that particular story, I have to confess, I have been in a series of meetings all day.”

Asked if Mr Johnson was a “feminist”, Ms Truss said: “He is absolutely a feminist. He has shown that time and time again. He’s also somebody who believes in equality right across the board.

“One of the things I am very proud of is I have been appointed women and equalities minister and the approach Boris takes – which I think is the right approach – is starting from the point of view of how do we tear down barriers that are stopping people getting on in life.

“I think that is his approach on gender equality, it’s also his approach on LGBT as well.”

Asked if she would look into any allegations in her brief as women and equalities minister, Ms Truss said: “As I say, I have been in meetings all day. I’ll need to look into that in more detail.”

PA

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