Royal Navy admiral throws his weight behind Penny Mordaunt as future PM amid Brexit turmoil

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt in Downing Street, London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt in Downing Street, London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
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AN ADMIRAL has urged Penny Mordaunt to resign from government – and to fight to become prime minister.

Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott has hailed the Portsmouth North MP as ‘the future’ and gave her his backing run for office.

Left to right, Penny Mordaunt with Julian Brazier MP, Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott and Major-General Julian Thompson in Portsmouth during the 2016 Brexit campaign'Pic Mick Young'11/06/2016

Left to right, Penny Mordaunt with Julian Brazier MP, Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott and Major-General Julian Thompson in Portsmouth during the 2016 Brexit campaign'Pic Mick Young'11/06/2016

The retired naval chieftain was a prominent figure in the Vote Leave campaign and worked alongside the now-international development secretary during the 2016 referendum campaign.

His comments come after leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May, as the PM reels from the loss of four ministers – including two from her cabinet – in protest at her Brexit plans.

Taking to Twitter to show his support for Ms Mordaunt, former submarine captain and flag officer submarines Rear Adm Lane-Nott said: ‘Having met you during the referendum campaign I have followed your excellent work.

‘You are right to be unhappy with the Deal. I would like to see you resign and stand for the Leadership. YOU are the future! Kind regards.’

Conservative MP Hacob Rees-Mogg speaking outside the House of Parliament after he handed in a letter of no-confidence to Sir Graham Brady, over Theresa May as PM. Photo: PA

Conservative MP Hacob Rees-Mogg speaking outside the House of Parliament after he handed in a letter of no-confidence to Sir Graham Brady, over Theresa May as PM. Photo: PA

Mr Rees-Mogg, who heads the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tories, said he expected the threshold of 48 MPs' letters to be passed, triggering a vote on Mrs May's future.

But he denied mounting a coup and said he was not putting himself forward as her successor.

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey sensationally walked out of the  government the morning after cabinet agreed a draft EU withdrawal agreement in a stormy five-hour meeting.

Two more junior ministers – Fareham MP Suella Braverman at the Brexit Department and Shailesh Vara at Northern Ireland – also quit along with two parliamentary aides.

Jacon Rees-Mogg smiling after a press briefing in Westminster  Photo: PA

Jacon Rees-Mogg smiling after a press briefing in Westminster Photo: PA

Ms Mordaunt has remained tight-lipped over whether she will resign from her cabinet role.

However, it has been reported she is due to meet the PM this evening.

The meeting comes after Mrs May faced a three-hour grilling in parliament over her 585-page withdrawal agreement – effectively the divorce deal - published yesterday.

Mrs May's deal came under a hail of criticism in the House of Commons, where only a handful of Tories spoke in favour of an agreement thrashed out in 19 months of intensive negotiations.

There was laughter from opposition benches when the PM said her deal would allow the UK to leave the EU ‘in a smooth and orderly way’ on March 29.

Mrs May insisted the deal was in the national interest and offered a future relationship with ‘a breadth and depth of co-operation beyond anything the EU has agreed with any other country’.

In a swipe at her Brexit-backing critics, she said the EU would never accept any agreement which did not involve a ‘backstop’ arrangement to ensure the Irish border remains open.

Mrs May said it would be ‘entirely irresponsible’ for the government to have simply torn up the backstop.

‘The Brexit talks are about acting in the national interest and that means making what I believe are the right choices, not the easy choices,’ she said.

‘We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated.’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on her to ‘withdraw this half-baked deal’.