Penny Mordaunt replaces Priti Patel in Cabinet reshuffle

Cheryl Sanders
November 9, 2017

The appointment of Mordaunt as worldwide development secretary followed the resignation of Priti Patel on Wednesday after revelations that she held secret talks with the Israeli government behind May's back.

The reshuffle means the prime minister has maintained the delicate balance in her cabinet between Brexiteers and Remainers.

Mordaunt, 44, campaigned to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

She was brought across from her junior ministerial role after Ms Patel was forced to quit on Wednesday, having angered Ms May by failing to tell the Prime Minister she had held unofficial meetings with high-level Israeli politicians.

The 44-year-old Brexiteer was promoted in a mini-reshuffle of Conservative MPs after Ms Patel's departure - the Government's second Cabinet resignation in less than a week.

But Ms Mordaunt is perhaps best known for donning her swimsuit in reality TV programme Splash! in 2014, when she joined celebrities to be trained in diving by Olympian Tom Daley. Last Thursday she replaced Sir Michael Fallon as defence secretary with Gavin Williamson.

Like Ms Patel, she campaigned for Brexit in the European Union referendum and her appointment will maintain the balance between Leavers and Remainers in the Cabinet.

Ms Mordaunt made no comment on her appointment as she left Downing Street, but opposition parties warned the former minister for the disabled that she would have her work cut out.

Mordaunt once famously delivered a speech on chickens purely so she could say the word "cock" in parliament.

Osamor added: "Unlike Priti Patel, who too often used the department to prop up her personal networks and leadership ambitions, Mordaunt must also quickly commit to the central cause of the department: to help the world's poorest".

Unlike her predecessor - who suggested the worldwide development department should be abolished before going on to head it - Ms Mordaunt is a strong supporter of the UK's foreign aid budget.

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