Penny Mordaunt is Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North. Follow Penny on Twitter.
This weekend I have been segregated from all forms of media: from newspapers, my phone and the internet. This was not some bizarre sociological experiment, but obedience to the rules of HMS Raleigh, a Royal Navy training establishment, where I was undergoing a militarisation course as part of my RN reserve duties. So it was not until Sunday night that I saw the reports that a whip’s abuse of me had, apparently reduced me to tears. Only one journalist – who did not subsequently write the story - called me during the week to check out these reports. So I think it is about time I put my side of the story. Brace yourselves for the awful truth. Yes, John Randall, the Deputy Chief whip, did reduce me to tears: but not last Tuesday on the evening of the House of Lords vote. In fact the dreadful deed was done many months before.
We hear much about loaded Conservative MPs, but there are rather a lot at the other end of the spectrum too and I am one of them. On this occasion I was under financial strain juggling all the additional demands made on an MP’s purse, and the following day I was due to find out whether I had breast cancer – a disease which holds particular dread for me having killed every female member of my maternal family including my mother at only seven years older than I am now. In short, it was a bit of a stressful week (although, thankfully, I later received the all clear regarding my health worry). John told me that MPs are “bloody awful” at admitting they are either wealth or health deficient. He suggested that I lean on him. He was so kind and I felt so relieved at having shared my stress that I shed a tear. He then apologised for making me cry.