Speaking at the launch of her campaign on Wednesday morning, the trade minister dismissed suggestions she was not well known enough to be prime minister and had the “best shot” of winning a general election.
“If we do not win the next general election, all those opportunities and the vision that the British people have from us leaving the EU will not be realised,” she said.
“We must win that election. I am your best shot at winning that election. I am the candidate that Labour fear the most. And they are right to.”
Mordaunt is one of eight candidates still in the race, along with Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, Suella Braverman, Nadhim Zahawi, Kemi Badenoch Jeremy Hunt.
MPs will today begin the process of whittling down the candidates to a final two who will be voted on by party members, with the final result due on September 5.
Anyone who fails to get 30 votes this afternoon will be eliminated from the contest, with the last-placed candidate losing their place even if they get above that threshold.
Mordaunt, a Brexiteer who is widely seen in Westminster as competing with Truss to face Rishi Sunak in the members vote.
With many candidates highlighting culture war issues to appeal to the party’s base, Mordaunt has been fighting suggestions she is too pro-trans rights.
In an effort to neutralise her previous vocal support for LGBT issues, she joked at her launch event: “I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said every prime minister needs a Willy. A woman like me doesn’t have one.”