While launching her bid to become the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, Penny Mordaunt channeled former leader Margaret Thatcher as she waded into the controversial debate over biological sex.
Asked to clarify her stance and how she would define a woman, she said to reporters: “I think it was Margaret Thatcher that said that every PM needs a willy. A woman like me doesn’t have one.”
The play on words referred to a quote in which Mrs Thatcher praised her top aide Willie Whitelaw.
Dimissing her stance on trans issue, Ms Mordaunt said: “I think we should be talking about the cost of living, I think we should be talking about health care.”
With humour, Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister, made those comments in reference to her deputy Prime Minister Willie Whitelaw – and not to males’ genitals.
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Thatcher praised her deputy Prime Minister, saying: “Every Prime Minister needs someone of total loyalty, big personality, big mind, like Willie Whitelaw who has this Parliamentary instinct. They really do. There is no other person who can ever take Willie Whitelaw’s place?”
However, Ms Mordaunt leveraged the phrase to put the issue of transgender rights to bed ahead of Wednesday’s first round of voting.
The Tory candidate has tried to shut down voices trying to depict her as “woke” amid a row over her stance on transgender rights.
The international trade minister – one of the favourite contenders to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister – has been accused of being “a committed warrior for the trans lobby” and of risking “enormous harm to women’s rights and children.”
When she was women and equalities minister under Theresa May, Ms Mordaunt insisted there was a difference between “biological women” and those who are “legally female.”
The first time she declared “transwomen are women” was back in 2018 in an interview with the PinkNews website.
Since she threw her hat into the ring and announced her bid to become Prime Minister, there has been renewed scrutiny of Ms Mordaunt’s past comments on trans issues.
The Tory candidate appears to have made a U-turn on her previous stance in a bid to gather support from Tory MPs.
Some Conservative commentators claimed Ms Mordaunt’s previous stance had the potential of ruining her chances of becoming Prime Minister.