LONDON — The U.K.’s struggling Conservatives should spend less time fighting the culture wars, the former — and possibly future — Tory leadership contender Penny Mordaunt argued.
Mordaunt — who has become one of the Tories’ most visible figures since she played a key role in the coronation of King Charles III — made the warning to her colleagues in a think tank speech in honor of the late U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The House of Commons leader told those attending Monday’s Centre for Policy Studies event that she had warned current PM Rishi Sunak: “Your team is the nation, and we have to reframe our story in those terms — and that’s why the culture wars and all of that doesn’t help, because we’re here for everyone.”
Mordaunt said she was “unapologetic” about the need for the Tories to be “talking about building more and taxing less — and not talking about culture wars, because it doesn’t move the country forward.”
Not everyone in the Tories agrees with Mordaunt’s take. Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has styled herself in opposition to “identity politics,” while Home Secretary Suella Braverman has taken aim at “Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati.”
Both Badenoch and Mordaunt are likely contenders in any Tory leadership contest after the next election, which the Conservatives are currently on course to lose to the opposition Labour Party. According to POLITICO’s poll of polls aggregator, Labour currently averages a 16 point lead over the governing party.
But Mordaunt claimed the electorate is yet to “seal the deal” with Labour, led by leader Keir Starmer.
“I think there’s all to play for and I think that historic fifth term is within our grasp,” she added.