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Penny Mordaunt: Defence of the UK is safe in my hands

The trade minister and former defence secretary surged ahead of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss after the first round of voting by Tory MPs.

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Penny Mordaunt has vowed to make defence the “first duty” of government should she emerge victorious in the Conservative leadership race (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Penny Mordaunt has vowed to make defence the “first duty” of government should she emerge victorious in the Conservative leadership race (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Penny Mordaunt has vowed to make defence the “first duty” of government should she emerge victorious in the Conservative leadership race (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Penny Mordaunt has vowed to make defence the “first duty” of government should she emerge victorious in the Conservative leadership race.

The trade minister and former defence secretary surged ahead of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss after the first round of voting by Tory MPs, despite being seen as a relative outlier before the race began.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Ms Mordaunt promised to honour the UK’s Nato commitment of spending 2.5% of GDP on defence by 2030, as she said Britain needs to “hold fast” to the nation’s shared values of “strength, fairness and decency, (and) a willingness to stand up for what is right”.

She wrote: “The defence of the realm is the first duty of any government.

“We will stand with Nato in defence of our common values and we will not flinch from the hard graft and putting boots on the ground on the alliance’s borders.”

Ms Mordaunt said she would hold firm to the UK’s position on the war in Ukraine, stressing Russia “must lose the war”.

“We must hold our position in Ukraine. There cannot be any territory ceded to Russia,” she said.

“Although that will be difficult, we have to be honest with our people that we need to do that for our own safety and security.”

I’ve been a member of our armed forces and I’m still pleased to be serving them as an Honorary Officer. I know perhaps better than any other candidate that it is our first duty to this country to defend themPenny Mordaunt

Ms Mordaunt also vowed to create a National Strategy Council to look at the challenges and opportunities facing the UK in the long-term, as well as a “civil defence force” of qualified volunteers to be brought in to help in major events such as flooding.

“I’m incredibly proud of our armed forces,” Ms Mordaunt said.

“I’ve been a member of our armed forces and I’m still pleased to be serving them as an Honorary Officer. I know perhaps better than any other candidate that it is our first duty to this country to defend them.

“People can be confident that this job is safe in my hands.”

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