MP’s bid to
make splash might end in belly-flop

Inspiration: Madeleine Shaw

LESLEY KEATING: Sugar-free for a year and I’m glowing

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She’s going into it with her eyes wide open, although they’ll be squeezed tightly shut when she hits the water.

We can only admire Portsmouth North Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt’s chutzpah for donning a swimsuit on national television and, potentially, making a fool of herself in front of millions.

If today we were only announcing her appearance on Splash! with Olympic diver Tom Daley, Gabby Logan and Vernon Kay, we would do so with our cynic’s hat on.

With a general election just 17 months away and her seat in some jeopardy because of the coalition’s apparent backing to end shipbuilding in Portsmouth, her decision to appear on prime time TV could be seen by some to be nothing short of a vote-seeking stunt.

Perhaps there is some truth in that.

And, of course, there is always the possibility it could all backfire with a series of toe-curling belly-flops.

Ms Mordaunt is well aware of the pitfalls and electoral risks. That’s all part of the political game.

But, and this is a big ‘but’, there is a delicious synergy about the 40-year-old’s diving exploits.

For, rather cannily, she has opted to give her £10,000 appearance fee to the group fighting to retain one of the city’s most precious recreational facilities.

Not only will that cash go to The Hilsea Lido Pool for the People campaign to reopen the old pool, but it will also be used specifically to install new diving boards there.Now there’s a brilliant piece of public relations.

But hats off to her. She admits: ‘I’m terrified about the height, about injuring myself and I’m terrified about wearing a bathing costume on national TV.

‘But in my panicked moments I think of the ladies from the lido and they are my inspiration for pushing on.’

She also knows she is in for a large helping of abuse on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. However, if her donation goes some way to ensuring the much-loved lido re-opens this summer, it might have been worth the exposure.