It might be a cliché for a left-wing blogger to rant about every MP linked with the possibility of becoming the next Tory leader, but I am seriously convinced that as bad as I believe Theresa May to be, Jacob Rees-Mogg would be on another level. And that’s not just because he was hilariously made a fool of by Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G character in 1999 (which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szGxq3pvJPQ), but because he has many controversial stances on progressive issues that we should celebrate in a society as liberal and tolerant as the United Kingdom.
Rees Mogg only became an MP in 2010, compared to Theresa May who had been an MP for almost 20 years before becoming Prime Minister last year. However, David Cameron had only been an MP for 9 years before becoming PM (and for only 4 before becoming the leader of the Conservatives) so it’s not unusual for an MP to gain such a high position so quickly anymore.
Rees Mogg’s stance on LGBT rights is extremely worrying. David Cameron’s biggest achievement as Prime Minister was the legalisation of gay marriage in 2013 – something which Rees Mogg voted against on more than one occasion, including the right for same-sex couples in the armed forces to marry outside the UK. If Rees Mogg were to attempt to repeal this vital piece of legislation for equality, then he would be completely isolating the 1.7% of the UK population who openly identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual (according to the Office for National Statistics: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/sexuality/bulletins/sexualidentityuk/2015) as well as all the allies who believe that nobody has the right to take away someone else’s right to love whoever they want, and to be protected under the law. Whilst so many people are persecuted across the world because of their sexuality, Rees Mogg’s stance on the issue is completely regressive and wrong, and conflicts with the popular opinion of the UK public that gay marriage should be allowed. This view could hurt his chances of becoming Prime Minister, should he choose to run if May resigns. Remember: love is so much stronger than division.
In an interview with Good Morning Britain (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/06/jacob-rees-mogg-opposed-to-gay-marriage-and-abortion-even-after) he also stated that – although the law won’t change – he is against abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. The Labour government of Harold Wilson in the 60s made so many progressive social reforms that benefit almost everyone in society, even 50 years later. One of the most important reforms that was passed was the Abortion Act of 1967 which meant that women could finally get safe abortions from the NHS. If Rees Mogg became Prime Minister, we would have a leader who would think it is morally wrong for a woman to decide what should happen to her own body, and therefore taking that right away from half of the population. Again, such a stance would clash with public opinion, as the majority of the UK believe that the woman should have the right to choose (https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/30/which-rights-matter-most/). The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should not want to restrict the rights for its citizens. Instead, they should inspire change and equal opportunities to work towards a fairer and safer society.
As a leader, Rees Mogg is not representative of the UK population. One MP, who I was speaking tom described him as the “Minister for the Nineteenth Century.” Like Cameron, Osborne and Johnson, Rees Mogg attended both Eton College and Oxford University. Only 7% of the UK population attended private schools so Rees Mogg would be representing the elite establishment who have consistently dominated Westminster politics. Fox hunting, one of the most controversial topics at the last election due to Theresa May’s suggestion of having an open vote on the issue, is also something Rees Mogg feels strongly about, describing it as the “least cruel” method of controlling the fox population (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPe1QWAEJp0). Rees Mogg’s views seem to only reflect those of the rural South-West where he represents.
Don’t be fooled by Rees Mogg’s personality. We all laughed at Farage didn’t we? Trump too? Look where those two ended up. They managed to have unprecedented influence on arguably two of the most historic votes of the decade. The media seemed to give them so much air-time because of their charisma and unorthodox styles of politics. Don’t be fooled by the attention Rees Mogg has been getting; the media love an outsider candidate, and if he decides to throw his hat into the ring then it’s likely that he would get the most coverage out of everyone.
So, to conclude: if Rees Mogg became Prime Minister then the Conservatives and Labour would become even more polarised than they currently are, offering the electorate an even greater choice between the parties. However, it would be a complete disaster for people who support equality and a fairer society for all. Is it likely to happen? Probably not. But you never know. So continue to spread love and stand up for what is right.