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Revealed: Penny Mordaunt’s hidden equalities agenda


The bookies’ favourite to win the Tory leadership race, Penny Mordaunt, has had a difficult few days. She’s facing questions not just about her views on trans rights, but about how honest she is about them. Suella Braverman has come pretty close to saying that, like Boris Johnson, Mordaunt has a habit of rewriting history to a version that suits her better and she does not offer the candour straight-talking needed after the Chris Pincher debacle. ‘Smears’, says Penny. She is the candidate of candour and straight-talking.

But Mr S has obtained a recording of a speech Mordaunt gave to LGBT+ Tory activists in June 2018, in which she did seem to suggest that it was her strategy not to be straight about what she was doing. At the time she was minister for women and equalities and was responsible for overseeing the consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act and whether it should be made easier to change gender.

She told the room that she ‘can’t even be seen to be helping with’ some of the proposed legislation she was privately championing. She also argued that ‘we have to have a huge campaign’ on transgender rights to aggressively combat the ‘hate and the ignorance’ of the ‘media’ and ‘campaign groups.’

It comes after government documents in today’s Sunday Times suggested that Mordaunt favoured removing at least one of the medical requirements needed for a person to transition during her time as equalities minister. Her campaign denies this, saying that ‘all ministers in the department wanted to maintain medical involvement, including Penny. Other ministers can back this up.’ Baroness Williams has issued a supportive statement to this effect.

In the recording obtained by The Spectator, Mordaunt tells LGBT activists that:

We have a lot to get done so what I think we need to demonstrate is our hunger to get those things done.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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