The snap General Election brought with it disastrous results for the Conservatives, and it seems as though Theresa May is on borrowed time as Prime Minister.
Support within her own party has dwindled, let alone amongst the electorate, and it is believed that she will be removed from her post prior to the next election, which can tan take place no later than 2022. Indeed, the bookmakers have 2019 as her likely year of exit – that would coincide with the probable timeframe that Brexit negotiations are concluded and the UK leaves the EU.
Never ones to miss a trick, those same bookies are already taking bets on who will be the next prime minister, and the names at the head of the market are unsurprising: Jeremy Corbyn is favourite after Labour’s resurgence at the polls, while key members of the Tory cabinet, such as Boris Johnson, Phillip Hammond and Amber Rudd, are being primed alongside Brexit negotiator David Davis – who may be reviled or revered come 2019.
But there’s another name that has gate-crashed the party. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP for North East Somerset, has hit the headlines of late for some, ah, interesting views, ad recently topped a poll of Conservative members asked for May’s likely successor.
Even though Rees-Mogg has distanced himself from the post, clearly the lure of the hotseat would be tough for the man known as ‘Moggy’ to resist.
So should the UK voting public be excited about what he brings to the table, or terrified of his rather archaic views?
Independence DayA firm Eurosceptic stance has warmed Rees-Mogg to those who desire absolution from the single market, and his approach is so right-wing on the topic that he even publicly declared that the Tories should form a pact with UKIP back in 2013. He is a noted supporter of the coalition with the DUP too.
Rees-Mogg’s conservatism is perhaps no surprise given that he was educated at Eton College and then Trinity College, although it was business rather than politics that was his first love. He purchased shares in GEC as young as ten, and has worked summarily as an investment banker and financial specialist both in the City and for his own firm, Somerset Capital Management.
Politics soon followed, although an unsuccessful attempt to win a seat in 1997 in Fife was highlighted by Rees-Mogg allegedly touring the working-class constituency in a Bentley. He won just 9% of the vote.
Unperturbed, he stood for the Wrekin seat in Shropshire in 2001, but suffered a 0.95% vote swing to the Labour MP Peter Bradley – bucking a national trend of a 3.5% switch in the Conservatives’ favour.
After a few years in the wilderness Rees-Mogg returned to politics for the 2010 General Election, and it was here that he finally became an MP at the third time of asking, triumphing in the North East Somerset vote with a majority of nearly 5,000 votes.
He is today considered to be a humorous public speaker and a slightly absurdist figure, and some of his more ‘unique’ hot takes include trying to amend the Daylight Saving Bill so that Somerset could have its own time zone (15 minutes behind London), and the opinion that council officials with the power to wield on-the-spot fines for things such as parking and littering should be made to wear bowler hats.
Unfortunately, those comedic takes play second-fiddle to some rather darker views stemming from his Catholic faith. Rees-Mogg is vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage – a great way to alienate a substantial section of the electorate, and has recently gone on record with his opposition to abortion – even in the instance of rape.
“Rape is a great evil and a terrible crime, but that’s not made better by then aborting the unborn child,” he told the Daily Mail. “The Catholic Church’s teachings are authoritative. There is a moral absolute on abortion — that it is wrong. To take a life after a rape is not the answer. Life begins at the point of conception.
“One can only feel compassion for a woman in these situations — which, of course are rare — but it’s hard to see how taking a child’s life makes them better.”
It remains to be seen whether somebody who holds such outdated and abhorrent views will be considered fit for Downing Street, although let’s face it hasn’t held Donald Trump back on the other side of the pond.
The campaign to make Rees-Mogg Prime Minister is gathering momentum amongst grassroots Tory MPs….let’s hope that’s where the campaign ends.