Mordaunt's 'failed to fight for women': Suella Braverman fuels row over Maternity Bill

Mordaunt's 'failed to fight for women': Suella Braverman fuels row over Maternity Bill

Penny Mordaunt ‘has failed to fight for women’: Suella Braverman fuels row over Bill which aimed to swap the word ‘woman’ to ‘pregnant person’

  • Suella Braverman took aim at PM candidate Penny Mordaunt on women’s rights
  • The Attorney General lost out in this latest round and has backed Liz Truss
  • She said Mordaunt wanted to put pregnant person in a bill instead of woman 
  • Mrs Braverman said Maternity Bill was changed after House of Lords opposition 

Penny Mordaunt was last night accused of failing to stand up for women by eliminated leadership rival Suella Braverman.

Attorney General Mrs Braverman said Miss Mordaunt was the minister in charge of a Bill which aimed to replace the word ‘woman’ with ‘pregnant person’.

She also insisted she disagreed with Miss Mordaunt’s previously stated stance that a ‘trans woman is a woman’. She told Sky News: ‘Penny is a very good politician, I disagree with Penny on some key issues in relation to one specific matter – ie. the Maternity Bill that was passed… last year.

‘I do have to say that Hansard [official report of Parliamentary debates] and the record shows that Penny Mordaunt as the Bill minister – the minister responsible for passing that legislation – did oppose and did resist the inclusion of the word “woman” and the word “mother” and did only concede after unsustainable pressure from the House of Lords.

‘I was quite disappointed by the way in which it was handled and the responsible minister I’m afraid didn’t stand up for women and didn’t actually reflect the views of a lot of our party on wanting women to be authentically represented on the face of the Bill and in legislation.’

Conservative leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt addresses the media and supporters during a press conference to launch her bid to become the next Prime Minister on Wednesday

Penny Mordaunt (2-L) is seen outside Parliament as Suella Braverman was dropped from the contest to be the next Conservative Party leader

Penny Mordaunt (2-L) is seen outside Parliament as Suella Braverman was dropped from the contest to be the next Conservative Party leader

Miss Mordaunt previously stated that trans women are women – but has avoided repeating the controversial assertion during the contest to replace Boris Johnson.

Was Mordaunt just a ‘part-time’ minister?

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt failed to take a single foreign trip in the first three months of 2022, the latest available transparency data revealed last night.

This is despite Miss Mordaunt – who has faced accusations of being a ‘part-timer’ for an allegedly lax attitude to her ministerial role – being responsible for international trade deals.

Her colleagues in the Department for International Trade, Secretary of State Anne-Marie Trevelyan jetted out five times, while exports minister Mike Freer recorded four trips.

Miss Mordaunt also appeared to hold fewer meetings than the majority of ministers in the Department in the same period.

Records show she held 20 trade-related meetings between January and the end of March, while investment minister Lord Grimstone, Mr Freer and Mrs Trevelyan had 110, 63 and 42 respectively.

The records come just days after a source at her Department told the Mail she ‘has often been missing at crucial moments’ when it comes to her remit.

Miss Mordaunt’s campaign was contacted for comment last night.


Yesterday, Nikki da Costa, a former No 10 director of legislative affairs under ex-PM Theresa May and Mr Johnson, accused her of pandering to Tory party members over the issue.

She said: ‘We’ve seen an almost complete 180 [degree turn] from Penny. She needs to come clean and say how her views have changed. Otherwise this looks like it’s just for the purpose of the leadership campaign and women will find their concerns rapidly ignored if she becomes PM.’

International trade minister Miss Mordaunt also came under fire at a Tory leadership hustings over the same issue. It comes after rival campaigns accused her of backtracking on her previous stance on transgender issues after she was branded a ‘woke warrior’.

Earlier this week, Miss Mordaunt claimed that she did not support self-identification of sex under the Gender Recognition Act.

Miss da Costa said people were ‘surprised’ by the apparent change in Miss Mordaunt’s stance.

She added: ‘I was in [Theresa] May’s Government when self-ID legislation – reform of the Gender Recognition Act – was under consideration and Penny was the minister taking forward consultation. Never got a sense of this.’ Meanwhile, Miss Mordaunt clashed with Right-wing MPs on Wednesday.

She was challenged at a hustings staged by the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories over her handling of the Maternity Bill. While the Bill was going through the Commons, Tory MPs led by Sir John Hayes tabled amendments to reinstate ‘mother’ and ‘woman’, but they were rejected by the Government.

Later the same amendments were reinstated in the House of Lords. At the hustings, Sir John, a supporter of Mrs Braverman, challenged Miss Mor daunt on the issue. He was said by colleagues to be ‘incandescent’ at her reply, according to Sky News.

One MP told the broadcaster: ‘She said she had only had a day to read the Bill. Anyone who’s been a Bill minister will tell you that you have plenty of time to prepare.’


Claire Ellicott

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