Penny Mordaunt, 44, has been confirmed as the new International Development Secretary.
Number 10 issued a statement which read: “The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Penny Mordaunt MP as secretary of state for international development. This follows the departure from government of the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP.”
Ahead of the official announcement, Alex Thier of the Overseas Development Institute said: “Congratulations to Penny Mordaunt MP on her appointment as secretary of state for international development.
“We look forward to working with her and her team to ensure DFID and the UK continues to play a leading role in tackling global challenges such as extreme poverty, conflict and climate change.
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Labour MP Chuka Umunna tweeted: “I see Penny Mordaunt is reported to be the new International Development Secretary – this is the same Minister who falsely claimed Turkey was about to join the EU. Words fail me.”
ITV’s Robert Peston earlier tweeted: “Tory MPs seem to expect Penny Mordaunt to be Patel’s successor. After furore over Gavin Williamson’s appointment last week, I would say that makes her a shoo-in!”
Ms Mordaunt will replace Priti Patel, who resigned over unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials.
She was the second Cabinet minister to quit in a week following Sir Michael Fallon, who stepped down as Defence Secretary last week after admitting to inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Theresa May replaced him with one of her closest allies, Gavin Williamson, a decision which reportedly angered senior Tories who were overlooked.
Ms Mordaunt was a key Leave campaigner
The Prime Minister has reportedly been under pressure to appoint another Brexit supporter to replace Ms Patel, who was a prominent Leave campaigner.
Ms Mordaunt is a Brexit-backing Naval reservist who has earned a reputation for rude jokes and for posing in swimwear.
She hit headlines in 2014 after revealing that she had sworn several times in a Commons speech as part of a dare.
She explained at the time: “When I was at Dartmouth doing my reservist training some of my marine training officers thought it would be a good idea to try and break the ladylike persona that I maintained throughout the whole of my course by getting me to yell particular rude words during the most gruelling part of our training, and I’m happy to say that they failed in that.”
“But during our mess dinner at the end of the course I was fined for a misdemeanour, and the fine was to say a particular word, the abbreviation of cockerel, several times during a speech on the floor of the House of Commons and mention all of the officer’s names present.”
Priti Patel resigned over meetings with Israeli officials
In the same year she competed in the ITV diving competition Splash, along with reality TV stalwarts Gemma Collins and Dan Osborne.
Discussing her decision to strip down to her swimsuit, Ms Mordaunt told the Daily Mail: “I could probably hold Her Majesty’s Stationary Office under my bosoms. But I’ve had some really lovely comments, actually, about what I look like in my swimsuit.”
“My mailbag is full of cards, and I’ve had so many nice emails and a lot of Twitter support. In fact, the only negative comments have come from my local political opponent, and I don’t think that’s reflected very well on him.”
In fact, many commentators criticised Ms Mordaunt’s decision to take part in the series, such as the Mirror’s Brian Reade who called her “just another attention seeker drowning her political credibility in the reality show cesspit”.
Penny Mordaunt flashed her swimming costume for ITV’s Splash
She defended her appearance, explaining: “I’m doing it for charity, and it’s an amazingly challenging personal experience.”
In 2016, The Sun reported that Ms Mordaunt had split from her long-term partner Ian Lyon, a Tory councillor and part-time opera singer.
Before she was elected to office, Ms Mordaunt enjoyed a lengthy career in communications, with stints as director of communications for the National Lottery and head of foreign press for George W Bush’s 2000 and 2004 US presidential election campaigns.
Ms Mordaunt was appointed parliamentary private secretary to then Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in 2013.
She became the first women to serve as minister of state for the armed forces from May 2015 until July 2016, when she was appointed minister of state for disabled people, health and work under David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary.