Tory members flood online groups with sexists slurs over Penny Mordaunt and declare Farage debate winner

Panicking Tory members reacted angrily to Penny Mordaunt‘s performance in the seven-way election debate, flooding an online message board with furious comments.

With the debate on ITV starting just hours after a YouGov poll put Nigel Farage’s Reform UK ahead of the Tories, morale was low among Conservative activists.

Leaked messages from a Conservative members only Facebook group showed that activists took out their frustration on Ms Mordaunt as she battled with Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, Mr Farage, Daisy Cooper from the Lib Dems and representatives of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens.

The Conservative Party Members Group, a private group for verified members, has over 3,000 Conservative members including MPs such as Andrew Rosindell, Joy Morrisey, John Penrose and Virginia Crosby.

Penny Mordaunt on the debate (ITV)
Penny Mordaunt on the debate (ITV)

In posts during the seven-way party leader debate on Thursday evening, Conservative members were dismissive of Ms Mordaunt’s performance against Mr Farage, some using sexist language in their criticisms of the the Leader of the House of Commons.

One member called Ms Mordaunt’s performance “Another fishwife session.”

They added: ”Penny getting very hot under the collar couldn't be less statesmanship if she tried.”

Another member stated that Ms Mordaunt, the leader of the house and former leadership candidate, was “in headmistress mode” with “everyone slagging each other off”, “not really helping anyone.”

The comments came after Ms Mordaunt barrage Ms Rayner for much of the 90 minutes with interruptions and angry exchanges in a bid to put the Labour deputy leader off her footing.

The ITV debate rules were that panellists should not be interrupted but Ms Mordaunt quickly ignored that rule and repeatedly tore into her Labour opponent.

The panellists on the seven way debate (PA)
The panellists on the seven way debate (PA)

This followed the first seven-way debate which was described as “unedifying” by the SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, another panellist, and was dominated by the two women shouting at one another.

After the debate though they were pictured patting each other on the back and laughing.

The Independent has learned that Ms Mordaunt was annoyed by briefings from potential leadership rivals about her missing the Tory manifesto launch at Silverstone on Tuesday.

It transpired that she was in a practice session for last night’s debate arranged by the party with people playing her opponents including Ms Rayner and Mr Farage.

Despite the practice though, tory members who had previously been critical of Rishi Sunak’s debating performance, were less than complimentary about Ms Mordaunt.

Her closing statement, an attack on Labour, seemed to one member to “suggest the Conservatives have nothing new to offer”.

Mr Farage’s performance was more positively received, with one member saying “Nigel is winning this one I think.”

Some Tories declared Farage the winner (Getty Images)
Some Tories declared Farage the winner (Getty Images)

Another mused that “Nigel has a lot of ammunition especially over the last two years.”

Ms Mordaunt’s debate performance appeared to cause other Conservative members to worry about the performance of the campaign and party strategy.

“We are in trouble for sure”, one wrote.

Another member stated that “the Tory manifesto was weak and allowed Reform to capitalise on that. New party leader inevitable and who the hell wrote the manifesto and directed this campaign really should hang their head in shame.”

This came after Conservative members expressed fear at a YouGov poll showing Reform overtaking the Conservatives into second place, with one current former Conservative councillor and current association chair expressing fears of “people switching to minor parties.”

“This is what happens when you let people who think they are adults take charge,” remarked one member.

“Time to cut our losses”, despaired another, adding: “Drop the waste of space PM.”