Tory leadership: Mordaunt ally slams Lord Frost for criticism
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Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has launched a scathing attack on Tory leadership contender Penny Mordaunt, saying she was not up to the job when she was his deputy in talks with the EU. Lord Frost said she lacked a grasp of the detail, was unwilling to deliver tough messages to Brussels, and that he had to ask Boris Johnson to replace her. James Sunderland MP lashed out at Lord Frost and insisted Ms Mordaunt is the “obvious candidate”.
Speaking to Talk TV, Mr Sunderland said: “I think it’s deeply unhelpful. We’ve all got beef with all of the candidates.
“I’m sure all of the candidates have picked up supporters and detractors over the years.
“I think it’s really, really important we keep the bar high and talk objectively about the candidates.”
He added: “The first thing I would say is to ask all of my colleagues to think strategically and not tactfully.
“Ask yourself who is most likely to win the next general election for the Conservatives, the answer unequivocally Penny Mordaunt.
“What we have to do is to enjoy the fresh start that she presents.
“She was fantastic yesterday at her launch, she was the only candidate so far to answer all the questions directly.
“She was short, she was punchy. She was very inspirational and I think for me she is the obvious candidate.”
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Lord Frost said he has “grave reservations” about whether Ms Mordaunt – who is currently the international trade minister – is now fit to be the next prime minister.
He told TalkTV: “I would not feel able to serve in a ministerial team under Penny Mordaunt. That’s how strongly I feel about that. I felt I had to make that clear today. MPs are voting today and I think they need to know the facts.
“The party has made wrong choices in recent years and I want to make sure we make the right one this time, so I had to make my views clear.”
His onslaught came after Ms Mordaunt took second place in the first round of voting by MPs, putting her in a prime position to make it through to the final ballot of party members.
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Lord Frost continued: “I am quite surprised at where she is in this leadership race. She was my deputy – notionally, more than really – in the Brexit talks last year.
“I felt she did not master the detail that was necessary in the negotiations last year. She wouldn’t always deliver tough messages to the European Union when that was necessary.
“She wasn’t fully accountable, she wasn’t always visible. Sometimes I didn’t even know where she was. This became such a problem that, after six months, I had to ask the Prime Minister to move her on and find somebody else to support me.”
He added: “If you are a prime minister you have got to be able to take responsibility, you have got to be able to run the machine, you have got to be able to take tough decisions, deliver tough messages.”
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