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Jacob Rees-Mogg: Palpably decent (Chris McAndrew CC 3.0)

It has been a busy summer for Jacob Rees-Mogg: re-elected as MP for North East Somerset — a Labour-held seat until 2010 in its previous incarnation as Wansdyke — with a majority of more than 10,000 in the June general election; his wife Helena giving birth to their sixth child, and fifth son, Sixtus, in July; and the subject of Conservative leadership speculation in August.

In the midst of this Rees-Mogg — and indeed much of his brood — have become Instagram sensations. His account first gained widespread attention when he posted a picture of himself with his eldest son, Peter, aged nine, both wearing prominent blue Tory rosettes and Jacob his trademark double-breasted pinstripe suit, outside a tattoo parlour displaying Labour election posters with the caption, “We shall have to take our business elsewhere.”

Time also had to be found to celebrate the Rees-Mogg nanny Veronica’s 50 years of service with the family. He must be the only contemporary politician who is happy to discuss his nanny and that of his children — it is, admittedly, rather unusual for them to be the same person — in interviews and to pose for photographs with her. Many other Conservative and indeed Labour politicians employ a person to look after their children, whether they call them a nanny or not, yet it is only Veronica who is visible. 

Is there the remotest chance that Rees-Mogg will become the next Prime Minister? Or will he remain best-known for his old-fashioned manners, occasional appearances on the BBC’s Have I Got News for You and willingness to send himself up on social media? It takes quite a leap of the imagination to see him in Number 10. After all, he is a backbench MP first elected only six years ago who has never held ministerial office even of the most junior kind. 

Until recently, those betting on who will be the next Conservative leader have taken “the Moggster” much more seriously than has the commentariat, placing him at the time of writing as second favourite behind David Davis and ahead of both his fellow Old Etonian Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond. This has changed somewhat with a ferocious attack on Rees-Mogg last month by the columnist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris in The Times, the paper once edited by the late William Rees-Mogg, Jacob’s father.

Parris’s criticisms of Rees-Mogg are precisely those that the modernising Conservative establishment during the Cameron-Osborne years held against him: that his fogeyish image would put off voters, while his steadfast beliefs in a low-tax, small-state economy and his passionate Euroscepticism merely hark back to a Thatcherite era with which voters are out of sympathy. While Cameron was flaunting the Tories’ compassion by committing the UK to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid, Rees-Mogg was one of only eight MPs who tried to derail the bill enshrining this into law. This was a case where the modernisers dismissing the “reactionary” Rees-Mogg are in fact the ones who may be out of line with the public mood.  

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Anonymous
September 11th, 2017
12:09 PM
To answer anonymous's question - I think they all make their children wear rust coloured corduroy breeches.

Secret Admirer
September 9th, 2017
5:09 PM
Don't know if JR-M will make it to PM but I certainly vote for him as sexiest MP. Could serve on my Treasury Benches any day.

Anonymous
September 9th, 2017
5:09 PM
Go for true Moggmentum. I say Nanny Veronica 4 PM. If she can handle 6 Mogg brats she can surely handle the country.

Anonymous
September 9th, 2017
5:09 PM
So where is it that the Rees-Mogg's and the author of this article are sending their children?

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