- Text by Michael Segalov
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, grassroots Conservative party members’ favourite choice to be next Tory leader, has today made it clear he is opposed to abortion in all cases. The member of Parliament for North East Somerset, who has in the past weeks been increasingly linked with the Tory top job, was speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Wednesday morning when he set out clearly his position on women’s reproductive rights: that abortion is “morally indefensible”.
“Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception,” he said, making it clear that even in cases of rape or incest he strongly believes that abortions are unacceptable. When asked whether he would be against terminations in all circumstances including rape, he replied bluntly: “Afraid so.”
Rees-Mogg’s might seem shocking, but they’re in keeping with his voting record in Parliament on social issues. Having voted against same-sex marriage in 2013, he today also reaffirmed his opposition to equality legislation. “I am a Catholic and I take the teachings of the Catholic Church seriously,” he added. “Marriage is a sacrament and the decision of what is a sacrament lies with the Church not with Parliament.”
Theresa May’s future is looking increasingly uncertain as Labour’s lead in opinion polls remains, while a Survation poll published earlier this week showed 35% of the British public want the PM to resign this year.
Now, with Rees-Mogg being picked as favourite for next Tory leader in a poll conducted by ConservativeHome, it’s clear that his views can’t be sidelined. His eccentricities have for so long been caricatured and made light of, but his critics now say his views pose a real and present threat.
Should the Tories opt for the Eton and Oxford educated politician to be their next leader, it won’t just be his views on abortion and same sex marriage that may well see the party struggle to reconnect with younger voters who they failed resolutely to garner votes from back in June’s general election. Rees-Mogg wants to repeal the Human Rights Act, and he wrote a column for the Telegraph in defence of precarious zero-hours contracts.
Just three years ago he addressed the Traditional Britain Group’s annual dinner – a far-right organisation that later, in a racist online rant, demanded Doreen Lawrence – the mother of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence – and “millions of others” be returned “to their natural homelands”. He later disassociated himself from the group when the racism emerged.
On Tuesday evening Rees-Mogg failed to rule himself out of a potential future leadership race, although he admitted it was unlikely to happen.