Ms Mordaunt concluded the launch video by saying: “Our leadership has to change. It needs to become a little less about the leader and a lot more about the ship.”
The Plymouth MP’s narrator states that: “Conservatives do not have a monopoly on good people and good ideas” – while showing an image of Jo Cox, the Labour MP murdered in 2016.
But her clip then adds: “We are the most successful party in our nation’s history because we more often reflect its values. Our greatest heroes have been the living embodiment of them.”
The video featured images of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, before showing a clip of Mr Johnson telling Tory activists: “But first my friends, let’s get Breakfast done.”
The Royal Navy reservist’s campaign video, described by one commentator on Twitter as “a flag-sh****r’s wet dream” also featured images of WW2 and fighter planes.
The video raised eyebrows for a sequence showing Oscar Pistorius, the athlete found guilty of manslaughter, alongside British Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock. Mr Peacock later told her on Twitter he “officially requested to be removed from this video”.
Ms Mordaunt also pushed back against those who may want to depict her as “woke” in a Twitter thread early on Sunday morning, as she sought to clarify how she would define a woman.
The trade minister is struggling to win support from right-wingers in the party over her stance on trans rights, one MP told The Independent.
Some activists shared her statement that “trans women are women and trans men are men” while she was equalities minister back in 2018.
On Sunday morning, Ms Mordaunt tweeted: “Some people born male and who have been through the gender recognition process are also legally female. That DOES NOT mean they are biological women, like me.”
The ninth candidate to formally enter the race, Ms Mordaunt has already picked up 18 endorsements so is set to get through the first of the contest.
The ardent Brexiteer has backing from former ministers Andrea Leadsom and Maria Miller, and 1922 Committee veteran Sir Charles Walker.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant backed her campaign, saying: “She is feisty, full of fun and, like me, while socially liberal, a staunch supporter of Brexit who firmly believes in the sovereignty and independence of the United Kingdom.”
Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Nadhim Zahawi and Grant Shapps have all entered the contest in the past 24 hours pledging to cut taxes, with Liz Truss set to join the race imminently.
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, is expected to meet senior colleagues and members of the party’s board on Monday to decide on the format and timing of the contest.
Treasurer of the 1922 Committee Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said on Sunday he is “absolutely confident” there will be two final candidates in the Conservative leadership contest before the summer recess on 21 July.
Tory leadership campaign teams are reportedly drawing up dossiers full of compromising allegations against rival candidates and their aides.
At least two rival campaign teams are claimed to have handed Labour digital dossiers packed with allegations against potential opponents, according to the Sunday Times – with even candidates’ staffers supposedly targeted.
Labour MP Chris Bryant tweeted: “The stories circulating about the various leadership candidates are so lurid they’re difficult to credit, but even more bizarre is the fact Tory MPs are circulating them.”
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