A Tory MP tipped to be the next prime minister once delivered a speech on poultry welfare to parliament for the sole purpose of saying “c**k” several times on a bet with Royal Navy colleagues.
Penny Mordaunt, the bookmakers’ favourite to win the Tory leadership, used the word six times and “lay” or “laid” five times during the course of a 2013 speech after being presented with a forfeit for a “misdemeanour” during training for the Navy reserves.
She admitted her guilt to a roomful of journalists as she picked up the award for speech of the year at The Spectator magazine’s Parliamentarian of the Year Awards in 2014.
The MP, who has since held several ministerial jobs, said she felt “a bit of a fraud” for receiving the award because “let’s face it, the reason I won this award is not because of the hours I put in or the carefully crafted speech, it’s because I referred to male genitalia during the course of it.
“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.”
Ms Mordaunt directed the audience to Hansard, the official report of all Commons debates, “where you can scroll down the usual list of topics that I talk about – the UK’s place in the world, why we need carrier strike force, the deterrent renewal,” and find her debate on poultry welfare, which she admitted was unusual “for someone representing an urban seat”.
In one line, she said: “The cause of hen and cock welfare is one raised with me by many constituents.”
She went on: “In ‘The Good Life’ idyll one imagines several hens and a single proud cockerel, but one strutting coxcomb will lead to many chicks and what is to become of the male contingent with not a layer among them?
“I encourage people to consider homes for hens, but to think carefully about a coop for a cockerel.”
She finally concluded: “When we eventually head into spring, let us have no cock-ups on hen welfare.”
After admitting her use of language, Ms Mordaunt was accused by then-Labour MP Kate Hoey of trivialising Parliament.
“’She should realise that the House of Commons is not a TV reality show … It is sad that she has misused it in this way – it sets a bad precedent,” Ms Hoey told The Mail on Sunday.
Ms Mordaunt told The Mail on Sunday: “If I have offended anyone I’m sorry. Feel free to beat me up over it.”
Launching her leadership campaign on Wednesday, Ms Mordaunt trod similar ground by making a phallic reference in a room full of colleagues.
Addressing her stance on transgenderism after controversy over conflicting statements she said: “It was Margaret Thatcher who said that ‘every prime minister needs a Willie’. A woman like me doesn’t have one.”
The former defence secretary came second in the first round of voting in the Tory leadership race on Wednesday but is the favourite to win ultimately.
Tory members said in a poll they would vote for Ms Mordaunt above any other candidate and she had better odds with bookmakers than the winner of the first round, former chancellor Rishi Sunak, after Wednesday’s vote.