Penny Mordaunt was the first candidate to officially throw her hat into the ring in the race for the now-vacant prime minister spot. While she faces competition from the likes of Rishi Sunak and a possible Boris Johnson return, BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg was keen to hear what exactly she had planned to place her head and shoulders above the rest. However, after Mordaunt appeared to dodge a number of Kuenssberg’s probes, insisting she wouldn’t be “drawn into” specifics, along with Kuenssberg’s line of questioning as a whole, a number of BBC viewers were less than impressed.
Throughout the interview, Kuenssberg grilled Mordaunt on what exactly she would cut if she were to get into power in order to curb spending.
But despite insisting she’d had meetings with chancellor Jeremy Hunt and backing him to stay in his position should she win the race, Mordaunt failed to delve into specifics.
Instead, Mordaunt insisted she “was not going to be drawn on this” when Kuenssberg quizzed if this meant “tax rises and spending cuts”.
Kuenssberg even asked outright if Mordaunt would make cuts to the NHS, again prompting Mordaunt to avoid giving a direct answer and suggesting voters should look at the platform she ran for in the summer.
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Mordaunt also claimed “efficiency savings” would have to be brought in when Kuenssberg probed further about NHS cuts but failed to confirm if this was regarding the health service.
Kuenssberg then probed on defence spending, prompting Mordaunt to reply: “I know that not giving you a direct answer is to my detriment but I’m putting the country first. We cannot have people in this leadership contest making spending commitments.”
Mordaunt also failed to confirm if she’d stick to the triple-lock manifesto promise regarding pensions, once more telling Kuenssberg: “I’m not being drawn on that one.”
The two even began talking over one another when Kuenssberg asked if Mordaunt still stood by her claims benefits should rise in line with inflation.
“You’re trying very hard Laura to -“ Mordaunt replied to which Kuenssberg hit back: “You said it a couple of weeks ago!”
With a lack of clarity emanating from Mordaunt’s answers and Kuenssberg’s persistent interruptions, BBC viewers took to social media to slam the entire segment.
Twitter user @6_timesred took aim at Mordaunt’s answers, fuming: “Absolutely pointless having @PennyMordaunt on #BBCLauraK then. Offered zero answers. Zero detail. Just waffle. If it’s about the public, then it’s GE time.”
Luke Morris agreed: “Penny Mordaunt killing her leadership bid live on #BBCLauraK. Disastrous interview, I really don’t know why she decided to show her face if she didn’t want to answer any questions. ‘I won’t be drawn on the specifics’ echoing around the studio.”
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Elsewhere, Dai Williams wasn’t best pleased with both parties, blasting: “Watching a terrible interview with the unpleasant @PennyMordaunt & the awful #BBCLauraK …..
“Learnt very little other than @PennyMordaunt would make a poor PM & @bbclaurak is a pretty poor interviewer #BringBackMarr.”
Patrick Couderc: “#BBCLauraK is behaving like some demented Rottweiler when interviewing @PennyMordaunt. She won’t leave her to finish a single sentence.
Putting Kuenssberg in the firing line, Jeremy C weighed in: #BBCLauraK Yet again Laura asks a question and doesn’t wait for an answer. Bring back Sophie.”
While Stuart Debar parsed Mordaunt: “P**s poor interview. Handled well by Mordaunt, yet all Laura seems to care about is getting a soundbite for a ‘breaking news’ headline #BBCLauraK.”
But Jonny Coxon and several others feel Mordaunt’s performance has left her leadership bid in ruins.
They argued: “Penny Mourdant – let’s go on #BBCLauraK and avoid every single leadership related questions Laura asks me. What a car crash.
“Should have just stayed at home with a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich. Absolutely not a Prime Minister.” (sic)
Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg continues Sunday at 9am on BBC One.