Mor­daunt main­tains May’s del­i­cate Brexit bal­ance in Cabi­net

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By PAUL WIL­SON

0 Penny Mor­daunt leaves 10 Down­ing Street after her ap­point­ment yes­ter­day Theresa May has main­tained the del­i­cate Cabi­net bal­ance be­tween Leavers and Re­main­ers as she re­placed Priti Pa­tel with an­other hard­line Brex­i­teer.

Penny Mor­daunt, the min­is­ter for the dis­abled, was pro­moted to be­come the new In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary fol­low­ing Ms Pa­tel’s dra­matic res­ig­na­tion on Wed­nes­day evening.

In her sec­ond emer­gency mini-reshuf­fle in the space of a week, the Prime Min­is­ter took the op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote two other women MPS.

Vic­to­ria Atkins be­came the first of the 2015 in­take of new Con­ser­va­tive MPS to en­ter the gov­ern­ment, be­com­ing a ju­nior Home Of­fice min­is­ter.

She re­placed Sarah New­ton who moves to take over Ms Mor­daunt’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at the De­part­ment for Work and Pen­sions (DWP).

Down­ing Street will hope the ap­point­ments re­store some sta­bil­ity after the tur­moil of re­cent weeks which saw Sir Michael Fal­lon forced to re­sign over al­le­ga­tions of im­proper con­duct.

In par­tic­u­lar the choice of Ms Mor­daunt as In­ter­na­tion­alde­vel­op­mentsec­re­tary­will be seen a sig­nal to re­as­sure hard­line Brex­i­teers that there will be no back-ped­alling.

Like Ms Pa­tel - who was forced to quit over her unau­tho­rised con­tacts with se­nior Is­raelis - she was a high-pro­file cam­paigner for Leave in last year’s ref­er­en­dum.

She un­der­lined her probrexit cre­den­tials by back­ing An­drea Lead­som in the sub­se­quent Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship con­test.

Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment, Ms Pa­tel tweeted her sup­port for her suc­ces­sor, con­grat­u­lat­ing her “dear friend” on her ap­point­ment.

There was anger among Re­main cam­paign­ers who crit­i­cised con­tro­ver­sial com­ments she made dur­ing the ref­er­en­dum sug­gest­ing the UK could not veto Tur­key join­ing the EU.

And Op­po­si­tion par­ties ques­tioned Ms Mor­daunt’s com­mit­ment to the in­ter­na­tional aid agenda and urged her to dis­tance her­self from the le­gacy of her pre­de­ces­sor who was highly crit­i­cal of some aid pro­grammes.

She is per­haps best known to the pub­lic for don­ning a swim­suit in the TV show Splash! in 2014, when she joined celebri­ties to be trained in div­ing by Olympian Tom Da­ley.

She was once ac­cused of triv­i­al­is­ing Par­lia­ment after ad­mit­ting she had smug­gled re­peated men­tions of the word “cock” into a House of Com­mons speech for a bet with fel­low naval re­servists.

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