Penny Mordaunt victim of 'black ops' in Tory leadership race, claims David Davis

Yorkshire MP David Davis has criticised the “black ops” being targeted at Penny Mordaunt as she continues to gain momentum in the Tory leadership race.

The Haltemprice and Howden MP, who is supporting Ms Mordaunt’s leadership bid, hit back after stinging criticism of her by former Brexit minister Lord Frost which were subsequently supported by Liz Truss-backing MP Simon Clarke.

Asked about the criticism by Sky News, Mr Davis said: “I wouldn’t describe it as friendly fire.

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“My comment when I saw it earlier was it’s absolutely clockwork – you get to the point that somebody gets ahead and looks to be the real challenger, and then the black op starts, the incoming fire starts.”

Penny Mordaunt has been criticised by supporters of her leadership rivals.Penny Mordaunt has been criticised by supporters of her leadership rivals.
Penny Mordaunt has been criticised by supporters of her leadership rivals.

Lord Frost had questioned her competence during an interview with TalkTV earlier in the day.

He said: “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.

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“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.”

Allies of Ms Mordaunt said she had “nothing but respect” for Lord Frost despite his scathing attack on her.

Treasury Chief Secretary Mr Clarke then told Sky News: “It is telling, I think, where current members of the Government are placing their support. That is reflected in a number of very senior ministers’ decisions about who to support in this race – they are not backing Ms Mordaunt.”

Yesterday’s second round of voting saw Rishi Sunak and Ms Mordaunt maintain their places at the front of the Tory leadership race as Suella Braverman was eliminated.

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Ms Truss came in third but was given a major boost as Ms Braverman declared she would now be backing the Foreign Secretary.

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