Penny Mordaunt, the Conservative MP and ministerial aide, is facing criticism after announcing that she is to strip to her swimsuit and take part in the ITV celebrity diving show, Splash!
Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North and a member of the Royal Naval Reserve, will compete in the show, hosted by Olympic diver Tom Daley, alongside the glamour model Danielle Lloyd and Dan Osborne from reality show, The Only Way Is Essex.
Ms Mordaunt, 40, who topped a 2011 website poll of the sexiest female MPs, is donating her fee towards paying for the renovation of Hilsea Lido and will contribute the rest to armed forces charities. “Splash! is scary....dunk tank was worse!!,” she tweeted.
The MP, who is parliamentary private secretary to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, was attacked for appearing in an entertainment show at a time when Portsmouth’s shipbuilding industry is under threat following a government downgrade of the port.
Cllr John Ferrett, leader of Portsmouth Labour Party Group, who will challenge Ms Mordaunt for the seat at the general election, tweeted: “truly astonishing. Whilst workers rallying to save 1000 jobs their MP has been training for celebrity gameshow!”
Ms Mordaunt’s participation on the show comes a little over a year after her party colleague Nadine Dorries appeared on the ITV contest I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!, which led to the party whip being temporarily withdrawn.
Ms Dorries was forced to apologise for failing to properly register her media earnings, including the undisclosed sum she received for appearing on the show.
Ms Mordaunt said: “I have the elegance and drive of a paving slab, but my navy training has certainly given me the guts to take on the challenge head on.
“Not only is Splash! a great personal development experience but it also seemed like the perfect way to fund raise for a charity I'm very passionate about - the Hilsea Lido in Portsmouth which is being renovated by the community. I will be donating my fee for the programme to assist with the renovations.”
Her addition to next weekend’s heat of Splash! was announced 30 minutes after the MP made a contribution at Prime Minister’s Questions, sparing her blushes in the Chamber.
The announcement was made whilst Ms Mordaunt held talks with George Osborne over the future of the city’s shipbuilding industry, allowing the MP to demonstrate her ongoing commitment to constituency matters.
Conservative whips are said to be relaxed about Ms Mordaunt’s participation, which will not require the weeks away in Australia necessary for I’m a Celebrity contestants.
Insiders believe the sight of Ms Mordaunt in her swimsuit may even boost the party’s poll ratings and her chances of retaining the Portsmouth seat she won from Labour in 2010.
Splash! sees a batch of celebrities in a knockout competition to impress with their high diving skills under the guidance of Olympic bronze medallist Daley.