Locals split on how PM’s early D-Day return could hit Penny Mordaunt’s chances

Members of the public in the constituency of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt are split over whether the Prime Minister’s decision to come home early from the D-Day commemorations in France could affect her chances of being re-elected.

Rishi Sunak has apologised and said that “on reflection” he should have stayed in Normandy for a major international ceremony attended by world leaders.

Instead, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron represented the UK Government, while Mr Sunak’s rival for the keys to No 10, Sir Keir Starmer, was also there rubbing shoulders with world leaders.

Brian Allen
Brian Allen, 83, from Portsmouth (Ben Mitchell/PA)

She is one of the prominent figures including Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and former minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg who are projected to lose their seats at the next election.

Speaking at Ocean Retail Park in Mordaunt’s Portsmouth North constituency, Brian Allen, 83, a retired Post Office engineer from Portsmouth, said of Mr Sunak’s actions: “I think it is very rude to the veterans and also to the other dignitaries who were there.”

Aaron Wood
Aaron Wood, 34, Portsmouth (Ben Mitchell/PA)

On how it might affect Ms Mordaunt, he added: “I don’t think it will affect her at all really. I think she will probably be the Prime Minister when he goes on.”

Aaron Wood, 34, a video editor from Portsmouth, said of Mr Sunak’s early return: “It seems a bit off, it feels like his campaign is in a bit of trouble from the off, seems like he’s not in a particularly good position and I think he has not reset himself up enough strongly on such an important date.

“I think they (the veterans) would have every right to feel put out by it.”

On Ms Mordaunt’s chances, he added: “I think everything Rishi Sunak does affects Penny Mordaunt’s campaign.”

He added that he would not be voting for her.

David Jordan
David Jordan, 72, Portsmouth (Ben Mitchell/PA)

On Ms Mordaunt’s campaign, he added: “It’s not going to help it, I don’t think, difficult to know, I think she has a pretty strong local following so I think she might hold on to her seat but he’s not helped her.”

His wife, Colleen Jordan, 69, a psychotherapist, said: “I was shocked, I only heard it this morning, to say it was a mistake, he has enough people around him to not make mistakes.

Colleen Jordan
Colleen Jordan, 69, Portsmouth (Ben Mitchell/PA)

On Ms Mordaunt, she added: “She’s strong in her own right, she’s a strong character, I’m not a Conservative but she’s done Portsmouth quite proud, I think she’s been a solid MP and I don’t think there’s much love lost between them.”

Ian Drew, 59, a full-time Royal Navy reservist from Portsmouth, said: “I think his diary is very very full, under a lot of pressure with the election, he did go there and represent us.

“We don’t know the full details of why he left early so I think until we establish that then we can judge.”

Ian Drew
Ian Drew, 59, Portsmouth (Ben Mitchell/PA)

“I am a staunch Conservative myself but she is one lady I’m not particularly keen on and don’t really trust.

“It might affect the Conservative Party as a whole but I think people have to make their own judgements and conclusions on stuff like that.”

Maggie Ennis, 77, who worked for the HMRC before retiring, said: “He apparently had a good excuse as he had a press conference, I have just listened to it on the news.

Maggie Ennis
Maggie Ennis, 77, Portsmouth (Ben Mitchell/PA)

On whether it would affect Ms Mordaunt’s campaign, she added: “Well I hope not because she’s brilliant, I hope it hasn’t affected her.”

And about Ms Mordaunt appearing in the television debate, Ms Ennis said: “She’s quite eloquent so she’ll cope.”

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