With so-called Moggmentum growing, let’s take a look at the seven obstacles blocking Ress-Mogg’s road to the top.
1. He has denied wanting the job
The first obstacle is that Rees-Mogg himself has said that he has no plans to run for the top job. In a July interview with Conservative Home, the backbench MP said that:
“Well it’s very flattering. I can’t help but be flattered. But I’m not taking it seriously."
He went on to say that, “I don’t think it’s wise to have ambitions above one’s station. But I love being a Tory MP.”
More recently, the Guardian has reported that Rees-Mogg has called talk of him becoming leader a result of the summer “silly season”. That said, the paper says that Rees-Mogg has “declined to rule out standing as a candidate in the Tory leadership contest widely expected before the next general election.”
2. No ministerial experience
Another major obstacle is that Rees-Mogg is a backbench MP with no ministerial – or even shadow ministerial – experience. This would be less of a problem if the Conservatives were in opposition, after all, Jeremy Corbyn ascended to the top without previous ministerial experience, however, with the Conservatives in charge, a newly elected leader in the form of Rees-Mogg would be thrown straight into the political deep-end.
3. Out of touch
Another obstacle in his way is the common accusation that he is out of touch. While that is an criticism of many Tory leaders, Rees-Mogg is arguably at a whole new, almost caricatured level. While his eccentricity could help liven an election campaign, and win over many Tory members, especially those angling for a hard Brexit, Mogg’s out of touch nature could be off-putting for those who see it as a hindrance to the wider electorate.
4. Getting enough MPs backing him
In Conservative leadership contests, MPs nominate their chosen candidates and then vote on who they want to take over. In the first round, the MP with the least votes gets knocked out, and members vote again. This happens over and over until two candidates remain, which members then get to vote on. The worry for Rees-Mogg is that he might get through the first couple of rounds with the backing of fellow Brexiteer backbenchers, but it could be much harder to get on to the final ballot, especially if MPs line up behind more mainstream Conservative big beasts like David Davis and Boris Johnson.
5. Getting support from the members
Let’s say Rees-Mogg makes it on to the final ballot – what then? If he faces someone who originally backed the remain campaign he could have an advantage with the pro-Brexit membership, but there is still the risk that he could be seen as too eccentric and too out of touch to appeal to the masses and win future elections. Much would depend on his opponent, but there is certainly the risk that the membership would pick a more mainstream and experienced candidate.
6. It could risk splitting the party
Huffington Post has reported that Conservative MP Heidi Allen could leave the Conservatives should Rees-Mogg be elected Tory leader. There is therefore the risk that a Rees-Mogg premiership could damage the party, something it will not want when its puny majority with the DUP is considered. This could be very off-putting to members and MPs considering backing Rees-Mogg, and even Mogg himself.
7. Rees-Mogg strongly backs Theresa May
One final obstacle that stands in Rees-Mogg’s way to the top is that he has given his full support to the current prime minister, as reported by the Evening Standard. This would be less of an issue if Theresa May stepped down of her own accord, but if she is challenged by an MP, it would be difficult to imagine Rees-Mogg following his colleagues into a contest against the prime minister he has backed so strongly.
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