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Mordaunt distanced self from climate sceptic – then took another £10k from him

Tory leadership hopeful Penny Mordaunt said she did not share Terence Mordaunt’s views. But she shared his cash

Jim Fitzpatrick square
Jim Fitzpatrick
20 October 2022, 5.37pm

Commons leader and Conservative leadership favourite Penny Mordaunt

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Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire

Tory leadership favourite Penny Mordaunt took a third donation from a prominent climate sceptic during her last campaign for the top job, despite distancing herself from his views during the contest.

openDemocracy first reported in July that Mordaunt had received £20,000 from First Corporate Consultants – a company run by Terence Mordaunt, who chaired the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) between 2019 and 2021.

Now the register of members’ interests at Parliament shows Commons leader Mordaunt received a third donation of £10,000 from Terence Mordaunt’s company on 19 July – the same day her campaign spokesperson told the i newspaper that Terence Mordaunt’s views were “not shared by Penny”.

It brings the total she has received since 2019 to £30,000, and means Terence Mordaunt has been the largest donor and most consistent financial supporter of the prime ministerial hopeful on record. Bookmakers say Penny Mordaunt has good odds of replacing Liz Truss in Downing Street, with only Rishi Sunak scoring more highly.

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The GWPF has campaigned against net zero targets and questioned the science of climate change. Terence Mordaunt previously told openDemocracy in 2019 that “no one has proved yet that CO2 is the culprit” of climate change, despite the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluding as far back as 1990 that CO2 was to blame for the greenhouse effect.

During her leadership campaign in the wake of Boris Johnson’s ousting in July, Mordaunt backed the government’s net zero target and said the transition to net zero could create millions of jobs over the next decade.

She said: “At the heart of my offer to the country is a relentless drive to harness the opportunities of greener industries and a plan to create jobs in those sectors most likely to benefit.”

But she also pledged to cut green levies on energy bills and halve the VAT on fuel, measures that climate campaigners said would make transitioning from fossil fuels more difficult. She also welcomed an endorsement from Howard Cox, a fuel campaigner who has previously said he does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change.

An analysis of Mordaunt’s voting record by the website They Work For You suggests that she has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change.

Last month, the government under Liz Truss announced a review of its net zero target and how it would be implemented. The commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 is an international pledge, but the review has raised questions about the government’s commitment to tackling climate change.

Neither Penny Mordaunt nor Terence Mordaunt responded to requests for comment today.

Other donors to Penny Mordaunt’s previous campaign included Renaissance Care, owned by Robert Kilgour – a prominent Scottish businessman and opponent of Scottish independence. He gave £10,000.

Penny Mordaunt, like other Conservative leadership candidates, ruled out allowing another independence referendum as prime minister.

Her biggest single donor during the leadership campaign was Conservative peer and major party donor Michael Spencer, who gave £25,000. He also donated to a number of other candidates.

And she received £15,000 from another Conservative peer, Philip Harris, who made his millions in carpet retailing.

Liz Truss announced her resignation at lunchtime today, speaking the Conservative Party's second leadership race in weeks. Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, has confirmed that anyone wishing to stand will need the backing of 100 MPs.

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