Tory leadership: Baker slams Penny Mordaunt's Brexit choices
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Conservative MP Steve Baker has turned on Penny Mordaunt over the former Defence Secretary’s choice to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal in 2019. Ms May’s divisive Brexit deal was eventually voted out by Conservative MPs triggering the end of her premiership, Mr Baker believes that had the vote passed with the support of Tory MPs like Ms Mordaunt then the next General election would have been a disaster for the Conservative Party.
Mr Baker told Robert Peston on ITV: “When it counted to made the wrong strategic call.”
“It is perfectly plain that if we had voted through Theresa May’s Brexit in name only deal it would have torn the Conservative Party in two,” he continued.
“Or be it one of the parts would have been a small part.
“We would have then lost a General Election with Nigel Farage standing candidates everywhere, together with at least a dozen Tory MPs saying this is Brexit in name only.
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Mr Baker added: “It would have been an absolutely disastrous General Election in Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell would have come to power forming an extremely hard-left Government which would have wrecked this country for generations.”
Ms Mordaunt has told Conservative MPs fearful of losing their seats under Boris Johnson that she is the candidate “Labour fear the most”.
One of the frontrunners to enter No 10, the trade minister warned other Tory leadership hopefuls on Wednesday that they are right to perceive her as a “threat to their campaign”.
The former Defence Secretary launched her pitch to be the next prime minister promising to return to traditional Conservative values of “low tax, small state, and personal responsibility”.
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Ms Mordaunt said her key economic policy would be that debt as a percentage of GDP, a measure of national income, would fall “over time”.
She has pledged a 50 percent cut in VAT on fuel to help ease the cost-of-living crisis but has not gone as far as others in the race to offer tax cuts.
And the naval reservist stood by the Conservative manifesto commitment to meet the Nato target for defence spending of 2 percent of GDP and increase it by 0.5 percent above inflation every year.
At her launch event at Westminster’s Cinnamon Club, Ms Mordaunt declined to describe Mr Johnson as a good Prime Minister, instead thanking him for delivering Brexit.
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But she insisted she is “very different” from her would-be predecessor but indicated she would not call an early general election to win her own mandate if she entered No 10.
She argued that having stood on the same platform as Mr Johnson and other Tories in the 2019 election “we have a mandate and a big majority”.
“I think the British people want us to deliver on that now,” she said.
But part of the reason Tory MPs eventually ejected Mr Johnson after a series of damaging scandals is that they feared retaining their seats at the next general election.
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