British Prime Minister Theresa May moved to shore up her embattled administration on Wednesday, appointing a Royal Navy reservist to replace a minister forced to resign for breaching rules.
May announced Penny Mordaunt as the new International Development Secretary less than 24 hours after Priti Patel resigned from the role amid the political furore over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.
Mordaunt, the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, was first elected to Parliament in 2010 and was appointed as minister for the disabled in 2016.
She had previously worked as minister for the UK armed forces, the first female lawmaker to hold the position.
The 44-year-old was one of the leading figures in the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum and keeps the equilibrium within May’s cabinet between “leavers” and “remainers”.
Patel was forced to quit after being summoned back frrom an African trip by May on Wednesday following revelations she had met senior Israeli officials during a family holiday in the summer, a significant breach of diplomatic protocol.
Mourdant joins the Cabinet at a troubled time for the beleaguered May, who has endured a number of setbacks over the past week.
She was rocked by the resignation of Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who stood down after becoming embroiled in the Westminster sexual harassment scandal.
There was further controversy last week when her de facto deputy, Damian Green, was forced to deny allegations that “extreme” pornographic material was found on his work computer in 2008.
May is under increasing pressure with her cabinet reeling from two resignations in the past week and her party’s failure to win an overall majority in June’s general election.
She is also facing criticism over the UK’s handling of the Brexit negotiations with the government being called upon to release secret documents detailing the economic impact of withdrawing from the European Union.