Jacob Rees-Mogg: I have no wish to be Tory leader
Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has batted away rumours of a leadership bid, saying he has “no wish” to take over the Conservative Party.
The prominent eurosceptic told LBC “no-one serious” considered him a “credible candidate” and reaffirmed his support for Theresa May’s premiership.
He said: “I have no wish to become the leader of the Conservative party. I’m fully supporting Mrs May.
“I think it’s extremely important that we have the same leadership for this period in our country’s history to make sure we get through Brexit properly and then go beyond that so that we can get the benefits of Brexit will be freer trade, lower prices in the shops, we’ll have control of our own borders and our own regulations and we need stability to get there.
“So I’m completely backing Mrs May and no-one serious thinks that I’m a credible candidate.”
The remarks follow a damning intervention from Tory grandee Ken Clarke over the weekend, who said it was "silly" to suggest Mr Rees-Mogg could become prime minister.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Clarke said talk of the North Somerset MP becoming Tory leader was “nonsense,” that was distracting the party from tough decisions on Brexit.
“It's no good diverting ourselves by saying would Jacob Rees-Mogg be a 21st century PM, which I suspect Jacob thinks is rather a silly question, certainly at this stage of his career,” the former Cabinet minister said.
Mr Rees-Mogg emerged as an unlikely contender to succeed Theresa May over the summer.
Although he has never held ministerial office, he came top in a ConservativeHome 'next leader' survey of Tory members.
Mr Rees-Mogg also hit out at his former colleague, now Evening Standard Editor, George Osborne, saying it was it was ‘"sad" that he had been reduced to spouting “bitterness and bile,” against Theresa May in his new role.
This follows yesterday’s claim in Esquire magazine that Mr Osborne had told friends he wants the Prime Minister "chopped up in bags in [his] freezer".
Mr Rees-Mogg told LBC today: “The sadness of George Osborne is that he is a formidably able man. He served with distinction as Chancellor of the Exchequer and he’s decided since leaving parliament to emulate a rather less successful Edward Heath.
“And I think this type of bitterness and bile ends up making the person who has that bitterness and bile feel resentful and sad and it has no effect on broader politics. His firepower diminishes with every bitter outburst and for so able a man that is something we should be sad about rather than particularly condemn.
“It’s the Evening Standard - it’s a local paper. It’s not a national paper. I think if it doesn’t like Mrs May for bilious reasons its impact will diminish.”
Asked if he reads the Evening Standard, Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “Very rarely, actually.”