Mordaunt dismissed warning over removing the word 'mother' from law

Penny Mordaunt dismissed warning over removing the word ‘mother’ from maternity leave law

  • Penny Mordaunt is said to have supported erasing the words ‘mother’ and ‘woman’ from a new law on maternity leave and replacing them with ‘person’
  • Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the minister did not ‘stand up for women’
  • Miss Mordaunt is claiming she is victim of ‘smears’ after a leaked document suggested she had changed her position on transgender issues

Concerns about erasing the words ‘mother’ and ‘woman’ from a new law on maternity leave were rejected by Penny Mordaunt, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries claimed yesterday.

She said the Tory leadership contender ‘dismissed’ criticism for using the term ‘person’ instead.

Mrs Dorries’ intervention will raise further concerns about the international trade minister’s ‘woke’ views after she was accused of not standing up for women. She said Miss Mordaunt ‘refused to even discuss’ with fellow ministers Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch – who are now up against her in the leadership contest – the changes she was proposing.

She wrote on Twitter: ‘I have a WhatsApp exchange from when I tried to reach out, where Penny again dismisses the issue of erasing the words “mother and woman” and replacing [them] with person – instead urging me to focus not on that, but on the positives.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries accused Penny Mordaunt of not standing up for women when she rejected concerns about erasing the words ‘mother’ and ‘woman’ from a new law on maternity leave

‘I called her. She told me that the legal position re. the Equalities Act meant a woman could not be referred to as a woman or a mother in legislation. This was untrue.

‘I appealed to No10 to intervene. I believe that Liz and Kemi did the same thing. When Liz took over the portfolio and, following further pressure from the Lords, the wording was altered.’ Mrs Dorries added: ‘We all have different opinions on many issues. This doesn’t make them right or wrong or reasons for attacks, but rather points of debate in a thriving, civilised democracy.’

It came after Miss Mordaunt claimed she was victim of ‘smears’ after a leaked document suggested she had changed her position on transgender issues.

The former defence secretary attempted to shrug off questions over her previous views after she said she had never supported gender self-identification – which states that a person should be able to determine their gender identity without any medical requirements.

The leaked document suggested that she had in fact been in favour of removing at least one element of the medical process required to change gender legally. Miss Mordaunt clashed with Miss Truss and Mrs Badenoch in a TV debate after they claimed they had reversed the policy she championed as Women and Equalities Minister.

Last week, she was accused of failing to stand up for women by eliminated leadership rival Suella Braverman.

Attorney General Mrs Braverman said she disagreed with Miss Mordaunt’s previously stated stance that a ‘trans woman is a woman’.

She said: ‘Penny is a very good politician, I disagree with Penny on some key issues in relation to one specific matter – i.e. the Maternity Bill that was passed… last year. I do have to say that Hansard [official report of Parliamentary debates] and the record shows that Penny Mordaunt as the Bill minister – the minister responsible for passing that legislation – did oppose and did resist the inclusion of the word “woman” and the word “mother” and did only concede after unsustainable pressure from the House of Lords.

‘I was quite disappointed by the way in which it was handled and the responsible minister I’m afraid didn’t stand up for women and didn’t actually reflect the views of a lot of our party on wanting women to be authentically represented on the face of the Bill and in legislation.’ Miss Mordaunt has previously stated that trans women are women – but has avoided repeating the assertion during the contest to replace Boris Johnson.

Nikki da Costa, a former No10 director of legislative affairs and a supporter of Mrs Badenoch’s campaign, said: ‘We’ve seen an almost complete 180 [degree turn] from Penny. She needs to come clean and say how her views have changed.’

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