THE MP for Portsmouth North has jumped to the defence of Tory leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom following reports that her ‘stellar’ London career has been exagerated.
The energy minister’s campaign team published a summary of her CV detailing her background in the financial services sector, including senior roles at Barclays and Invesco Perpetual.
But The Times reported comments from former colleague Robert Stephens on the Reaction website suggesting that, while at Invesco Perpetual, ‘she did not manage any teams, large or small, and she certainly did not manage any funds’.
But armed forces minister and Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt, who is backing Mrs Leadsom to take over from David Cameron, claims there has been a ‘concerted effort’ made to cast doubt on her background and she is the ‘strongest candidate on the economy’.
Ms Mordaunt, who campaigned for Brexit with Mrs Leadsom, said the ‘bogus’ story overlooked her years at Barclays.
‘This is a concerted effort to rubbish a stellar career and imply that she was just making the tea,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
At Barclays ‘she was running a fund, she was also managing the global banking network’, Ms Mordaunt said, adding: ‘Andrea’s stock is high in this area.’
Amid speculation that supporters of Theresa May could be encouraged to back Michael Gove in the next round of voting by Tory MPs on Thursday, in an effort to prevent Mrs Leadsom’s name being on the final shortlist of two presented to party members, Ms Mordaunt urged colleagues to remember they were picking the next occupant of Number 10.
‘I would say it is absolutely vital for our party membership and the country - this is the prime minister we are picking here - that we put forward the best candidates,’ she said.
‘I would say to all my colleagues on Thursday, if you are voting for a candidate who you do not think is the best person to lead this country, you are doing something wrong.’
A spokesman for Mrs Leadsom said: ‘It is both surprising and disappointing that The Times based a significant part of a leading article on a single, uncorroborated letter without giving Mrs Leadsom the opportunity to respond to the allegations made in that letter.’