Jacob William Rees-Mogg (born 24 May 1969) is a British politician serving as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council since 2019, and who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Somerset since 2010. A member of the Conservative Party, Rees-Mogg is a social conservative.
|Leader of the House of Commons|
Lord President of the Council
|Assumed office |
24 July 2019
|Prime Minister||Boris Johnson|
|Preceded by||Mel Stride|
|Chairman of the|
European Research Group
9 January 2018 – 3 September 2019
|Preceded by||Suella Braverman|
|Succeeded by||Steve Baker|
|Member of Parliament|
for North East Somerset
|Assumed office |
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
Jacob William Rees-Mogg
24 May 1969
Hammersmith, London, England
Helena de Chair
|Parents||The Lord Rees-Mogg|
|Relatives||Annunziata Rees-Mogg (sister)|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Oxford|
Rees-Mogg was born in Hammersmith, London, and educated at Eton College. He then studied History at Trinity College, Oxford, and was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He worked in the City of London and in Hong Kong for Lloyd George Management until 2007, then co-founded a hedge fund management business Somerset Capital Management LLP. He has amassed a significant fortune: his estimated net worth in 2016 was from £55 million to £150 million, including his wife's expected inheritance. Moving into politics, he unsuccessfully contested the 1997 and 2001 general elections before being elected as the MP for North East Somerset in 2010. He was reelected in 2015 and 2017, with an increased share of the vote each time, although his vote share fell in the 2019 general election. Within the Conservative Party, he joined the traditionalist and socially conservative Cornerstone Group.
During the premiership of David Cameron, Rees-Mogg was one of the parliamentary Conservative Party's most rebellious members, opposing the Whip's office on issues. He became known for his speeches and filibustering in parliamentary debates. A Eurosceptic, he proposed an electoral pact between the Conservatives and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and campaigned for the Leave side in the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union. He joined the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG), becoming chairman in 2018. He attracted support through the social media campaign Moggmentum and was promoted as a potential successor to Prime Minister Theresa May as Leader of the Conservative Party. He however endorsed Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest. Johnson appointed him Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council following his election as Conservative Leader and appointment as Prime Minister.
Rees-Mogg is a controversial figure in British politics. He has been praised as a conviction politician whose anachronistic upper-class mannerisms and consciously traditionalist attitudes are often seen as entertaining. Critics view him as a reactionary figure, and some of his positions having made him the target of organised protests. He has been dubbed the "Honourable Member for the 18th century".
Life and career
Early life and education
Rees-Mogg was born in Hammersmith, London, on 24 May 1969, the younger son of William Rees-Mogg (1928–2012), a former editor of The Times newspaper, created a life peer in 1988, and Gillian Shakespeare Morris, his wife, a daughter of Thomas Richard Morris, a Conservative party local government politician and Mayor of St Pancras in London. He was one of five children, having three elder siblings, Emma Beatrice Rees-Mogg (born 1962), Charlotte Louise Rees-Mogg (born 1964) and Thomas Fletcher Rees-Mogg (born 1966), and one younger sister, Annunziata Rees-Mogg (born 1979).
Prior to his birth, in 1964 the family purchased Ston Easton Park, a country house near the village of Ston Easton in Somerset, where Rees-Mogg grew up attending weekly mass and occasionally Sunday school at the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Ghost, Midsomer Norton. Here he started catechism in 1975 under his governess and attended mass in the ordinary form. A few years later, in 1978, the family moved to the nearby village of Hinton Blewett where they purchased The Old Rectory, a Grade II listed former rectory, today valued at £2 million. Living in Somerset, he regularly commuted to his family's second home in Smith Square, London, where he also attended independent boys' prep school Westminster Under School.
Growing up, Rees-Mogg was primarily raised by the family's nanny Veronica Crook, whom he describes as a formative figure. Crook now looks after Rees-Mogg's own children, having worked for the family for over 50 years.
When Rees-Mogg was ten, he was left £50 by a distant cousin, and his father, on his behalf, invested in shares in the now-defunct General Electric Company (GEC). Rees-Mogg said this event was the beginning of his interest in stock markets. Having learned how to read company reports and balance sheets, he later attended a shareholders' meeting at GEC, where he voted against a motion because dividends were too low. He subsequently invested in London-based conglomerate Lonrho, eventually owning 340 shares, and reportedly caused the company's chairman Lord Duncan-Sandys "discomfort" by quizzing him at an annual general meeting on the low dividends offered to shareholders. In 1981, at a shareholders' meeting of GEC, in which he owned 175 shares at the time, he told the chairman Lord Nelson that the dividend on offer was "pathetic", sparking amusement among board members and the media.
After prep school, Rees-Mogg entered Eton College, where he was described in a school report as a "particularly dogmatic" Thatcherite. Upon leaving Eton, he had his portrait painted by Paul Branson RP for the Eton College Collections, which was later put on display during the Faces of 1993 Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition.
Rees-Mogg read History at Trinity College, Oxford, where he graduated with an upper second-class honours degree in 1991. Almost immediately after arriving in 1988, he was nominated by Cherwell for the title of "Pushy Fresher", printing a photograph of Rees-Mogg speaking in a suit with the caption "What more need we say?". While at Oxford, he became president of the Oxford University Conservative Association with what Cherwell described as a "campaign for world domination and social adequacy". Rees-Mogg was a member and frequent debater at the Oxford Union and elected Librarian, but Damian Hinds defeated him for president of the Union. Reflecting on his time at university, Rees-Mogg regretted not having studied Classics.
After graduating from the University of Oxford in 1991, Rees-Mogg worked for the Rothschild investment bank under Nils Taube before moving to Hong Kong in 1993 to join Lloyd George Management. During his tenure in Hong Kong, he became a close friend of Governor Chris Patten and was a regular at Government House. Three years later, he returned to London and was put in charge of some of the firm's emerging markets funds. By 2003, he was managing a newly established Lloyd George Emerging Markets Fund. In 2007, Rees-Mogg left the company with a number of colleagues to set up their own fund management firm, Somerset Capital Management, with the aid of hedge fund manager Crispin Odey. Following Rees-Mogg's election as the Member of Parliament for North East Somerset, he stepped down as chief executive of the company; however, he continues to receive income in his capacity as a partner.
Somerset Capital Management is managed via subsidiaries in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore. Rees-Mogg has defended offshore tax havens, and his vast wealth which has been estimated to be in excess of £100 million when combined with his wife's expected inheritance, has left him open to the criticism that he cannot understand the lives and concerns of many ordinary people.
In 2018, Somerset Capital opened an investment fund in Dublin. The new business prospectus listed Brexit as one of the risks, as it could cause "considerable uncertainty". Rees-Mogg, a partner of the business who does not make investment decisions, defended the move, stating: "The decision to launch the fund was nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit." When interviewed by Channel 4 in March 2019, Rees-Mogg declined to answer suggestions that their calculations showed that he could have earned £7 million in the period since the referendum, and stated that the investment was made before Brexit. The Irish Times, whilst agreeing that the fund had warned of Brexit risks, noted that his actions caused 'mirth' on both sides of the Irish Sea as it still had access to the EU. In July 2019, Rees-Mogg resigned from his part-time role at Somerset Capital Management following his appointment as Leader of the House of Commons.
Parliamentary candidate and other roles
Rees-Mogg first entered politics at the 1997 general election at which, aged 27, he was selected as the Conservative Party candidate for Central Fife, a traditional Labour seat in Scotland. With an upper class background set against a predominantly working-class electorate, Rees-Mogg was criticised by many constituents for being too posh. News stories from the time ridiculed Rees-Mogg for canvassing the area with his family's nanny and touring the constituency in a Bentley, a claim that he later described as "scurrilous", stating it had been a Mercedes. With a name recognition of less than 2%, Rees-Mogg managed to gain the third-highest number of votes on election night, earning 9% of all votes cast, a figure much lower than that of previous Conservative Party candidates for the area. However, no new Conservative MPs were elected in Scotland that year; the Conservative Party suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1906, and lost all its seats in Scotland.
In 1999, when it was being rumoured that his "anachronistically posh" accent was working against his chances of being selected for a safe Conservative seat, Rees-Mogg was defended by letter writers to The Daily Telegraph, one of whom claimed that "an overt form of intimidation exists, directed against anyone who dares to eschew the current, Americanised, mode of behaviour, speech and dress". Rees-Mogg himself stated (in The Sunday Times, 23 May 1999) that "it is rather pathetic to fuss about accents too much", though he then went on to say that "John Prescott's accent certainly stereotypes him as an oaf", a comment which he later said he regretted and for which he apologised. He later said: "I gradually realised that whatever I happened to be speaking about, the number of voters in my favour dropped as soon as I opened my mouth."
Rees-Mogg was selected as the Conservative candidate for The Wrekin in Shropshire for the 2001 general election, but lost to the sitting Labour MP Peter Bradley who achieved a 0.95% swing to Labour against the national trend of a 3.5% swing to the Conservatives. From 2005 to 2008, he was the elected Chairman of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association.
In 2006, Rees-Mogg criticised efforts by then-Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron to increase the representation of ethnic minorities on the party candidate list, arguing that fulfilling quotas can often "make it harder for the intellectually able" and that "Ninety-five per cent of this country is White. The list can't be totally different from the country at large."
In March 2009, Rees-Mogg was forced to apologise to Trevor Kavanagh, the then political editor of The Sun, after it was shown that a newsletter signed by Rees-Mogg had plagiarised sections of a Kavanagh article that had appeared in the newspaper over a month earlier.
In December 2009, a pamphlet which purported to show him talking to a local constituent and calling on the government to "show more honesty" was criticised after it emerged that the "constituent" was a London-based employee of his investment firm.
He was one of the directors of the Catholic Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in London who were ordered to resign by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor in February 2008 after protracted arguments over the adoption of a tighter ethical code banning non-Catholic practices such as abortions and gender reassignment surgery at the hospital.
Rees-Mogg was described by Camilla Long in a profile in The Sunday Times as "David Cameron's worst nightmare" during the 2010 general election campaign. At that election, Rees-Mogg became the new Member of Parliament for the new North East Somerset constituency, with a majority of 4,914 votes. His sister, journalist Annunziata Rees-Mogg, stood simultaneously in neighbouring Somerton and Frome, but failed by 1,817 votes to win her seat. In The Guardian, Ian Jack had claimed that the selection of two such highly privileged candidates had damaged the Conservative Party's message of social inclusion, and appeared to suggest that privileged candidates should be excluded.
Cameron government (2010–2016)
In 2010 the ConservativeHome blog rated Rees-Mogg as one of the Conservatives' most rebellious MPs. He later voted against the government whip on the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, the October 2011 European Union Referendum Motion and the House of Lords Reform Bill 2012.
In the House of Commons, Rees-Mogg gained a reputation for his humorous speeches and ability to filibuster. He helped filibuster the Daylight Saving Bill 2010–12 and the Sustainable Livestock Bill 2010–12, thus preventing their passage through Parliament. In his long speech on the Sustainable Livestock Bill, he recited poetry; spoke of the superior quality of Somerset eggs, and mentioned the Empress of Blandings, a fictional pig who won silver at the Shropshire County Show three years in a row, before moving on to talk about the sewerage system and the Battle of Agincourt. He also jokingly attempted to amend the Daylight Saving Bill to give the county of Somerset its own time zone, fifteen minutes behind London.
In a December 2011 debate on London Local Authorities Bill, he said that council officials with the power to issue on-the-spot fines should be made to wear bowler hats. In February 2012, he used the word "floccinaucinihilipilification"—meaning "the habit of considering as worthless"—during a parliamentary debate; it was noted as the longest word then uttered on the floor of the House of Commons.
In May 2013, he addressed the annual dinner held by the Traditional Britain Group, a far-right group that calls for non-white Britons to be deported. Rees-Mogg had been informed as to the nature of the group by anti-fascist group Searchlight prior to his attendance. After the dinner, he informed the press that although he had been informed of the group's views, he had "never been a member or supporter" of them.
In January 2014, he dismissed the sum of £250,000 spent on MPs' portraits as trivial by saying "I'm all for saving money, saving money right, left and centre, but this is chicken feed". In December 2014, Rees-Mogg was reported to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for speaking in debates on tobacco, mining, and oil and gas without first verbally declaring he was a founding partner and director of Somerset Capital, which manages multimillion-pound investments in these sectors. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, decided that no wrongdoing had been committed and thus no investigation would take place. According to The Daily Telegraph, Rees-Mogg's extra-parliamentary work took up 476 hours, or 9 hours per week, in 2014.
May government (2016–2019)
After Cameron resigned in the wake of the referendum result, the Conservatives had a leadership election in which Rees-Mogg initially supported Boris Johnson. After Johnson chose not to run, Rees-Mogg endorsed Michael Gove and after Gove was eliminated he backed Andrea Leadsom. Leadsom then withdrew, allowing Theresa May to become Conservative leader and Prime Minister.
Rees-Mogg supported the then-Republican Party nominee Donald Trump during 2016 U.S. presidential election. In October 2016, when the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape surfaced, he distanced himself from Trump's Twitter messages, saying that Twitter was "fundamentally trivial". In May 2018 he wrote an article for The Times titled 'Trump Will Be Our Greatest Ally After Brexit', saying that he "appealed to voters left behind by the metropolitan elite and he exudes confidence about his own nation and a determination not to be a manager of decline, which also inspires the Brexiteers".
In November 2017, Rees-Mogg met Trump's former White House Chief Strategist and Breitbart News' executive chairman Steve Bannon to discuss how right-wing movements can succeed in the United Kingdom and the United States. Rees-Mogg later defended the meeting when asked about it in an interview, stating, "I've talked to any number of people whose political views I do not share or fully endorse ... Inevitably politicians meet other politicians. Mr Bannon was the chief of staff to President Trump and is a senior figure in the Republican Party."
In 2017, he supported the confidence and supply agreement made between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). He later addressed a DUP fundraising event, drawing criticism from the Northern Ireland Conservatives.
Rees-Mogg was widely regarded as a potential candidate for the leadership of his party, something he was reportedly considering during 2017. On 13 August 2017, however, Rees-Mogg said that such speculation was "part of media's silly season". Two Conservative MPs, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry, announced that they would leave the party if he became leader; another, Justine Greening, suggested she could do the same. However, other Conservative MPs, such as Jesse Norman, and Daniel Kawczynski have expressed support for a prospective Rees-Mogg leadership bid. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage also backed a potential Rees-Mogg candidacy.
Following the 2017 general election, calls were made for Theresa May to step down as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party after failing to win an overall majority in the House of Commons. This led news outlets to begin speculating on May's possible successor with Boris Johnson touted as the bookmakers' favourite and Rees-Mogg being given 50/1 odds. A day after the election on 9 June, an online petition, titled Ready for Rees-Mogg, was set up urging Rees-Mogg to run for leader of the Conservative Party. Hoping to mirror the success of pro-Corbyn activist group Momentum, a 'play on words' hashtag of Moggmentum was created. By 8 July 2017, the campaign had attracted over 13,000 signatures and raised £2,000 in donations with leadership odds being cut to 16/1, making him second favourite behind David Davis. On 14 August, co-founder of Ready for Rees-Mogg Sam Frost announced the petition had gathered 22,000 registered supporters, 700 volunteers and £7,000 in donations, despite Rees-Mogg having said a day earlier that such speculation was "part of media's silly season" and that "no-body serious" believed he was a candidate. On 5 September 2017, a poll conducted by ConservativeHome put Rees-Mogg as the favourite for next leader, with 23% of the votes based on 1,309 people surveyed.
He was elected chair of the European Research Group, a Eurosceptic pressure group within the Conservative Party, in January 2018. A report in The Independent suggested that this position provided him with the immediate support of around 50 Conservative MPs, a sufficient number to trigger a leadership contest. Since then, Rees-Mogg directly criticised the leadership of May and chancellor Philip Hammond, fuelling more rumours that he was planning to stand for the leadership but reiterated he had no intention of doing so. In February, a speech that Rees-Mogg was giving at the University of the West of England was disrupted when left wing protesters accused him of being a racist and a bigot; violence broke out between the protesters and Mogg's supporters.
A supporter of "hard Brexit" (although he prefers the term "clean Brexit"), Rees-Mogg has been highly critical of the government's handling of the Brexit negotiations, in particular Theresa May's "Chequers deal", calling it "staying in the EU without a vote":
The prime minister needs to look at what she herself has said, the promises she has made, the commitments of the last election, and see if they square with Chequers — and in my view they do not. If she sticks with Chequers, she will find she has a block of votes against her in the House of Commons ... Of course the Eurosceptics in parliament are not in a majority on all issues, but we will inevitably be in a majority on some of them and that will make the legislation extraordinarily difficult if it is based on Chequers.
In 2018, as part of a Sunday Times investigation into online abuse following controversial comments made by Boris Johnson regarding the niqab and media attention regarding alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, it was reported that a number of Facebook groups supportive of Rees-Mogg and Johnson (some of which included Conservative councillors and officials) were leaving "widespread" Islamophobic and racist comments on Johnson's Facebook page. In response, Rees-Mogg said he was supporting a private member's bill put forward by Labour MP Lucy Powell to regulate social media, and added "people who have these types of views should take no solace in using [Johnson's] comments as an excuse to take this approach". Rees-Mogg defended Johnson against accusations of Islamophobia and criticised the party for initiating disciplinary action against Johnson – in order, Rees-Mogg said, to weaken Johnson politically – calling it a "low-grade abuse of power" as well as a "show trial" and a "witch hunt".
On 15 November 2018, Rees-Mogg implied that he might submit a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister over her draft Brexit proposal. Later that day, he submitted such a letter to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs and told reporters "What Theresa May says and does no longer match" but added "... this is nothing to do with personal ambition". Following May's announcement that she would call off the House of Commons vote on her Brexit deal due to widespread dislike of the deal, Rees-Mogg made a statement saying: "What has two years of Theresa May doing Brexit amounted to? An undeliverable deal Parliament would roundly reject, if the prime minister has the gumption to allow it to go before the House of Commons. This is not governing, it risks putting Jeremy Corbyn into government by failing to deliver Brexit. We cannot continue like this. The prime minister must either govern or quit." In November 2018, Rees-Mogg suggested the party elect Boris Johnson as its new leader.
Rees-Mogg was described as the leading figure within the unsuccessful effort for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May as party leader by the parliamentary Conservative Party on 12 December. Despite losing the vote, Rees-Mogg continued his calls for May to resign as leader the following day, stating that the Prime Minister had "clearly lost the support of the back benches of the Conservative Party". Rees-Mogg received criticism for his role in this effort from junior minister Tobias Ellwood, who called his actions "destructive", "divisive" and "selfish". On 18 December, Rees-Mogg said: "Under Tory party rules the prime minister won, that is a mandate for the next year. I therefore fully support her, I lost the vote last week." He later voted against the Labour Party's motion of no confidence on 16 January 2019, having stated earlier that day on Politics Live that he would support the Prime Minister.
Rees-Mogg said on 22 February 2019 that he opposed Home Secretary Sajid Javid's decision to revoke the UK citizenship of Shamima Begum, one of the Bethnal Green trio, as she was eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship. On his Friday night show on LBC, he stated that he thought that "there is a fundamental equality in British citizens and if you can't take [his] passport away, then you shouldn't be able to take it away from anybody else" and argued that "Why on earth should Bangladeshis pick up a problem that's essentially our problem. We're trying to put our litter in our neighbour’s garden."
Johnson government (2019–present)
Rees-Mogg endorsed Boris Johnson to become leader of the Conservative Party following the resignation of Theresa May. Following Johnson's election as leader on 23 July 2019 and appointment as Prime Minister the next day, Rees-Mogg was appointed Leader of the House of Commons, replacing Mel Stride. He also became Lord President of the Council and attends cabinet meetings in the Johnson government. This is the first time that Rees-Mogg has either served in a government role or the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.
In September 2019, Rees-Mogg apologised after comparing neurologist David Nicholl, who was involved in the government's Operation Yellowhammer report, to discredited anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield. Rees-Mogg has supported a future vaccine against coronavirus and has called anti-vaxxers "nutters".
During the 2019 general election, Rees-Mogg was criticised after an interview with LBC's Nick Ferrari during which he said it would have been "common sense" for residents to flee the Grenfell Tower fire, ignoring fire brigade advice to stay put. Several hours later, Rees-Mogg said he "profoundly apologised" for his comments. Rees-Mogg subsequently made fewer media appearances throughout the rest of the election campaign (in which the Conservatives ultimately won), fuelling speculation in the media that he was under orders from Downing Street to keep a low profile as a result of the Ferrari interview, which was supposedly perceived as damaging to the party. Later in the campaign, in an interview with Boris Johnson, Ferrari asked Johnson "Where is Moggy? [...] I don't see him anywhere." Johnson responded that Rees-Mogg was campaigning actively around the country.
In 2020, Rees-Mogg accused Unicef of a political stunt after it announced for the first time in its 70-year history it would be providing food parcels to children in deprived areas of London prior to Christmas. Rees-Mogg said that Unicef were "playing politics when it is meant to be looking after people in the poorest, the most deprived countries in the world, where people are starving, where there are famines and where there are civil wars." Rees-Mogg was branded "Scrooge" by Labour MP Neil Coyle. In his comments, Rees-Mogg stated the charity was "faffing around in England" and "Unicef should be ashamed of itself".
In 2021 Rees-Mogg broke government coronavirus restrictions by travelling 15 miles from his residence in the Tier 3 area of West Harptree to a church in the Tier 4 area of Glastonbury to attend a Latin Mass. The government's guidance was that people could worship in Tier 4 but were not permitted to travel between tiers. A spokesman for Rees-Mogg said that he "regularly attends the only old rite mass available in the Clifton diocese which meets his religious obligations."
Rees-Mogg's political views have been described as High Tory, reactionary, traditionalist, nationalist, socially conservative, and right-wing populist, although he has rejected that description stating that he stands for "popular policies, not populist policies".
Opposition to membership of the European Union
Rees-Mogg's public statements on the European Union and referendum on membership have changed over time. In 2011, referring to the then proposed European Union membership referendum Rees-Mogg suggested a process with two referendums, saying: "Indeed, we could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the renegotiation is completed." In his May 2012 lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies, in which he laid out his broad policy position on a range of issues, Rees-Mogg referred to the European Union saying: "I am not an advocate of withdrawal from it but instead I want a fundamental renegotiation of terms".
Writing in The Daily Telegraph in May 2013, the Eurosceptic Rees-Mogg asked whether it was time to make a "big open and comprehensive offer" to the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He said collaboration would be straightforward as policies were similar on "many issues" and most Conservatives would prefer Nigel Farage to Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister. His remarks angered his party leadership, while UKIP said it was against any formal arrangements. In January 2019, shortly after Farage left UKIP, Rees-Mogg expressed support for Farage potentially returning to the Conservative Party, stating, "personally I hold Nigel in the highest regard and think he was one of these people who was instrumental in delivering Brexit."
As a vocal critic of the European Union, Rees-Mogg was a leading figure in the campaign for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, appearing in a number of interviews to debate the topic. Speaking at the Oxford Union, he described the EU as a threat to British democracy and to the sovereignty of parliament citing various countries' rejection of the European Constitution which was later implemented via the Treaty of Lisbon. He later credited the DUP for having "saved" Brexit by torpedoing an agreement between the government and the EU. After meeting with a representative of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, he criticised the party for being insufficiently eurosceptic, stating that "German euroscepticism is milk to British euroscepticism's brandy."
In April 2019 Rees-Mogg was criticised online after he tweeted a video of a speech made by Alice Weidel, the co-leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, said Rees-Mogg was "promoting Germany's overtly racist party, AfD". Speaking later, Rees-Mogg said: "I'm not supporting the AfD. But this is a speech in the Bundestag of real importance because it shows a German view of Brexit." He replied to Lammy in a statement on LBC radio saying: "Once again, Mr Lammy's reputation for under-statement is reinforced"
UCL's modern Jewish history professor Michael Berkowitz accused Rees-Mogg of trafficking in antisemitic tropes when Rees-Mogg castigated his opponents in a Commons debate on 'no-deal' Brexit (specifically Oliver Letwin and John Bercow – both of whom are Jewish) as forming part of an "illuminati who are taking the powers to themselves". In October 2019, Rees-Mogg faced similar criticism from David Lammy when he suggested that George Soros was allegedly the "funder-in-chief" of the Remain campaign.
Counter to the Conservatives' U-turn on turning state schools into academies, Rees-Mogg is a proponent of academy-based education, reasoning that it gives schools more freedom from local education authorities to make decisions and cuts down on bureaucracy. While defending the list of Conservative candidates for the 2005 election, he said that it would be foolish to disbar candidates who attended Oxford and Cambridge Universities – typically considered the most prestigious universities in the UK – from selection, saying that the country would not be best run by "potted plants". This was perceived as an attack against those who did not attend Oxbridge universities or go to public school, with many in the British media accusing him of elitism and snobbery.
In February 2018, police launched an investigation after Rees-Mogg was caught in the middle of an altercation at a university campus when left wing protesters disrupted a student event in Bristol. The non-platforming and interference received cross party condemnation with Jo Swinson, then Leader of the Liberal Democrats, tweeting that she was "deeply worried by the violence" and Labour MP Angela Rayner also tweeted saying that she "utterly condemned the behaviour" of those who tried to attack Rees-Mogg and that she found the tactics "intimidating".
Environment and climate change
Rees-Mogg has set out his views on environment and climate change in a number of public documents, articles and interviews, in which he couches his views in the context of economic growth stating that environmental targets should serve economic purpose rather than "green orthodoxy".
In 2012, Rees-Mogg questioned climate science, saying that climate models are not accurate and predictions cannot be proved by controlled experiment, adding that the effect of carbon dioxide emissions "remains much debated". He also suggested that it is not possible to change people's behaviour to mitigate climate change and that it is better to just adapt to it. He described the views of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation as "attractive" in 2012.
Rees-Mogg has been hostile to renewable energy and was one of 100 MPs who wrote to David Cameron successfully pressurising the government to withdraw subsidies and change planning rules for onshore wind.
With regard to environmental regulations, Rees-Mogg has expressed opposition to regulations stating that: "We could say, if it's good enough in India, it's good enough for here. There's nothing to stop that. We could take it a very long way ... I accept that we're not going to allow dangerous toys to come in from China, we don't want to see those kind of risks. But there's a very long way you can go."
Economic and labour policy
While Rees-Mogg largely espouses free market economic views, he endorses a role for state intervention, having been influenced by both Robert Peel, an economic liberal, and Benjamin Disraeli, a protectionist. He believes that improving people's lives requires "some use of the powers that the government has".
In 2013, Rees-Mogg expressed support for zero-hour contracts, arguing that they benefit employees, including students, by providing flexibility and could provide a route into more permanent employment. He rejected criticism by Vince Cable and others that they were exploitative as "the standard response of the left". In September 2017, Rees-Mogg suggested that food banks fulfil a vital function, and proceeded to argue that "to have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are". He went on to argue that "the real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they are there and Labour deliberately didn't tell them." During the same interview, Rees-Mogg conceded that people have "found life tough" but suggested the best way out of poverty was through employment.
Rees-Mogg has taken a mixed approach to British involvement in the Syrian Civil War, denouncing a proposal to arm the Syrian rebels, but subsequently voting in favour of a failed proposal for British military action against the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2013. In October 2015, he argued that "The consequences of the efforts to undermine Assad have been the rise of terrorism and the mass movement of people."
He voted in favour of British military action against the Islamic State in Iraq in 2014 and in Syria in 2015.
He has described foreign aid as a "really wasteful approach to government spending", and supported a campaign by the Daily Express to reduce Britain's foreign aid budget.
Rees-Mogg has previously voted for a stricter asylum system and a more controlled immigration policy in order to reduce net migration. According to Nigel Farage, Rees-Mogg believes a poster featuring the words "breaking point" overlaid on an image of columns of Syrian refugees entering Europe "won the referendum" for the Leave campaign. Rees-Mogg favours the end of free movement of people to the United Kingdom. He wants non-British EU citizens residing in the UK to be protected with "broadly the same rights as British citizens – no better or worse", and not have rights given to them retrospectively retracted.
In May 2018, Rees-Mogg criticised May's target of reducing immigration numbers to 100,000 per year as too low, describing it as "a number that was plucked out of the air" and as "pulling up the drawbridge", and said he was "very sympathetic" to removing student visas from official immigration numbers.
Regarding same-sex marriage, Rees-Mogg has stated that he is opposed to it and "not proud" of it being legal, and that it has alienated traditional supporters of the party. In 2013, Rees-Mogg said that on the issue of same-sex marriage, he took his "whip from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church rather than the [Conservative] Whip's Office". He later elaborated that in his view "marriage is a sacrament and the decision of what is a sacrament lies with the Church, not with Parliament."
Rees-Mogg is against abortion in all circumstances, stating: "life begins at the point of conception. With same-sex marriage, that is something that people are doing for themselves. With abortion, that is what people are doing to the unborn child." In September 2017, he expressed "a great sadness" on hearing about how online retailers had reduced pricing of emergency contraception. Despite his stance, Rees-Mogg has said that he does not believe Britain's laws on same-sex marriage or abortion will change.
In October 2017, it was reported that Somerset Capital Management, of which Rees-Mogg was a partner, had invested £5m in Kalbe Farma, a company that produces and markets misoprostol pills designed to treat stomach ulcers but widely used in illegal abortions in Indonesia. Rees-Mogg defended the investment by arguing that the company in question "obeys Indonesian law so it's a legitimate investment and there's no hypocrisy. The law in Indonesia would satisfy the Vatican". Several days later, it was reported that the same company also held shares in FDC, a company that sold drugs used as part of legal abortions in India. Somerset Capital Management subsequently sold the shares it had held in FDC. Rees-Mogg said: "I am glad to say it's a stock that we no longer hold. I would not try to defend investing in companies that did things I believe are morally wrong".
Rees-Mogg is opposed to capital punishment, and favours due process for British jihadists operating abroad.
Rees-Mogg appeared on The 11 O'Clock Show in 1999, where he was interviewed by Ali G, who called him "Lord Rees-Mogg" and attempted to talk about social class.
In October 2017, Rees-Mogg presented talk radio station LBC's morning show for a day, where he discussed Brexit, foreign policy and the T-charge with callers, including Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable. Rees-Mogg was praised for his sense of charm and humour. He returned to present a Sunday show on LBC in February 2018.
On 15 July 2017, he joined Twitter, writing in Latin: Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis. ("the times change, and we change with them"). He also uses Instagram and has discovered he enjoys social media.
In September 2019, Rees-Mogg became subject of criticism by fellow MPs after a picture of him reclining on the bench of House of Commons during a debate about the Brexit was published in the media. Rees-Mogg kept a low profile during the subsequent 2019 general election.
According to an article in the Evening Standard in 2018, Rees-Mogg has generated controversy in the past through some of his "more extreme views". In 2017 the commentator Suzanne Moore compared Rees-Mogg to Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, and Donald Trump, suggesting that like them "he embodies the three things that many people require of modern politicians: a veneer of authenticity; an ability to cut through perceived liberal wisdom; and enormous privilege that is flaunted, rather than hidden." Moore was of the view that he uses his "religious faith" in an attempt to "excuse his appalling bigotry". Rees-Mogg's relationship with reactionary and nationalist movements such as the Traditional Britain Group has led Moore to call him "a thoroughly modern bigot" and to describe his political views as "verg[ing] on fascistic .. dressed up in tweed with a knowledge of the classics".
In 2006 Rees-Mogg became engaged to Helena Anne Beatrix Wentworth Fitzwilliam de Chair, a writer for a trade magazine and the only child of Somerset de Chair and his fourth wife Lady Juliet Tadgell. Rees-Mogg had first met de Chair, a close friend of his sister, when they were children, and they began dating the year before their engagement, after Rees-Mogg had gained the blessing of Lady Juliet. The couple were married at Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, in 2007, in a ceremony at which the post-Vatican II Mass was celebrated in Latin.
In 2010 the couple purchased the Grade II* listed Gournay Court in West Harptree, where they live with their six children. The house is a former Red Cross hospital where Rees-Mogg's great aunt served as a volunteer nurse and the resident matron during the First World War.
In July 2017 Rees-Mogg said: "I've made no pretence to be a modern man at all, ever" and commented that he had never changed a nappy, stating: "I don't think nanny would approve because I'm sure she'd think I wouldn't do it properly." Veronica Crook, who was Rees-Mogg's own nanny from age four, when she joined the family in 1965, is now nanny to his six children. In September 2017, Labour MP Harriet Harman argued that "Men who don't change nappies are deadbeat dads – and that includes Jacob Rees-Mogg".
As a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Historic Vehicles, Rees-Mogg has an interest in historic cars. Aged 23, he purchased a 1968 T-Series Bentley previously owned by cricketer Gubby Allen. In 2005, Rees-Mogg added a 1936 3.5 Litre Bentley to his collection alongside a Lexus for everyday use. Rees-Mogg is also a cricket enthusiast and has supported Somerset County Cricket Club since his youth.
In May 2018, he purchased a £5 million property on Cowley Street, behind Westminster Abbey.
Titles, styles, and arms
From his father's ennoblement in 1988, he was entitled to the style of The Honourable. He gained the style of The Right Honourable when sworn into the privy council on 25 July 2019.
|Liberal Democrats||Nick Coates||12,422||22.1||+13.8|
|Liberal Democrats||Manda Rigby||4,461||8.3||+0.4|
|Liberal Democrats||Wera Hobhouse||4,029||7.9||−14.4|
|Liberal Democrats||Gail Coleshill||11,433||22.3||+2.7|
|Conservative win (new seat)|
|Liberal Democrats||Ian Jenkins||4,738||11.4||−1.4|
|Liberal Democrats||Ross Laird||2,610||6.4||−0.5|
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- Official website
- Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Conservative Party page
- Jacob Rees-Mogg North East Somerset Conservatives
- Jacob Rees-Mogg | Politics | The Guardian
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Jacob Rees-Mogg at IMDb
- Ring Rees-Mogg on LBC
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament
for North East Somerset
| Leader of the House of Commons
| Lord President of the Council|
| Chair of the European Research Group
|Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom|
as Prime Minister
as Lord President of the Council
Sir Lindsay Hoyle
as Speaker of the House of Commons