Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt named one of the favourites for Tory leadership if PM loses confidence vote

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Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has been named one of the bookmakers’ favourites to take over the Conservative Party leadership, if Theresa May loses tonight’s confidence vote.

Ms Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development, is on 12-1 with William Hill or 25-1 with Ladbrokes.

A vote is take place tonight on Mrs May’s leadership after 48 Tory MPs called for her to go in letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee.

Earlier Ms Mordaunt, who has been MP for Portsmouth North since 2010, issued a statement on Twitter saying Mrs May had her ‘full support’.

She said: ‘The Prime Minister has my full support, not least because she has always done what she firmly believes is in the national interest.

‘Our country needs us all to fight for a good deal and prepare for a no deal scenario.

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP and international development secretary

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP and international development secretary

‘All eyes and hands should be on that task.’

READ MORE: Penny Mordaunt was armed with a pistol during trip to Somali capital

As a prominent Leave campaigner, there was speculation Ms Mordaunt might resign over Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement and she was named by Jacob Rees-Mogg as one of his favoured candidates.

But Ms Mordaunt has publicly voiced her support for Mrs May in recent months although she has not ruled out putting herself forward should the Prime Minister lose a vote of no confidence.

She pledged her support for Andrea Leadsom in the 2016 Conservative leadership contest.

Other favourites for the leadership include former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson, who are joint favourites with Ladbrokes at 4-1.

The secret ballot is being held tonight between 6pm and 8pm, with a result expected at about 9pm.

In a statement Sir Graham said: ‘The votes will be counted immediately afterwards and the result will be announced as soon as possible in the evening.’

It comes as the government pulled a House of Commons vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal, which Mrs May was widely expected to lose.