Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Look beyond Rees-Mogg's Cartoony Shtick at What He Really Stands For

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Look beyond Rees-Mogg's Cartoony Shtick at What He Really Stands For

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Leith

CONSIDER the Moggie: he neither toils nor spins. At least he appears not to which is, as we know, most of the skill of it. This week we were treated to the news that this witty Old Etonian financier, who wears a suit and tie to bed and is seldom seen out without a blue rosette the size of a dustbin lid, is "sounding out friends" about a Tory leadership bid.

"Blow me," I remarked to my wife yesterday morning, peering at her over the Sunday paper. "They're saying that Jacob Rees-Mogg is second in the running to be the next leader of the Conservative Party." "They are?" she said, a forkful of the toothsome eggs and bacon stalled halfway to her mouth. "Why on earth would they do that?" "It's August," I said glumly.

This, of course, was only half an answer. Had there not been toast and marmalade to be eaten I might have added that Moggie has had a couple of belting Question Time appearances, defending Brexit with an articulacy and candour that won him applause from a hostile audience and saw a lot of people to whom he should, rightly, be ideological poison given that he's a market fundamentalist and a reactionary on social issues crushing on him over social media. An irony-steeped generation has taken him to their hearts.

Just like a Seventies rock star, he's given his children silly names, and he has never changed one of their nappies because that's nanny's job. He tweets in Latin. He misuses "one" to mean "I". He even quotes P G Wodehouse when he's filibustering out legislation to protect the environment from greed-crazed factory farmers.

The Moggster! He's a cartoonist's idea of a patrician; and he's the cartoonist.

We can say in his favour that underneath the vaudeville routine he is a person of high intelligence and strong principles. But Boris Johnson has the first quality, and he is already a stock too short. …

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