Trigger Warning: Mentions of abortion and rape.
Although Theresa May remains steadfast in her determination to remain at the top of the Conservative Party, her own party and onlookers are starting to pile on the pressure. In fact, 50% of party members want Theresa May out before the next General Election (which in theory is 2022, but in reality could be a lot sooner) and 9% of members want her gone immediately–which raises the question: who should be the next leader of the Conservative party?
Whilst most people think of old favourites such as Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd when they think of the next Tory leader, it seems that the grassroots favourite is actually Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative backbencher.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is everything you’d expect from a Tory MP: he’s white; he’s male; he studied at Eton and then Oxford. Although the ConservativeHome blog describes him as a ‘rebel’ for repeatedly voting against the party whip, Rees-Mogg is actually a staunch traditionalist.
By which we mean he’s a bigot.
“The Conservative Party is, at it’s core, inherently homophobic and misogynistic.”
This morning, ITV’s Good Morning Britain invited him onto their show, where he revealed that, as a Catholic, he is opposed to same-sex marriage.
“I support the teaching of the Catholic church,” he explained to Piers ‘Sentient Ham’ Morgan and Susanna ‘Complicit’ Reid. “Marriage is a sacrament and the view of what marriage is is taken by the church.”
The MP also admitted that he was “completely opposed to abortion” in all circumstances – even in cases of rape.
When the DUP-deal was first proposed in June, many people, myself included, criticised the Tories for giving a party such as the DUP–who are a climate change denying, abortion opposing, homophobic party–a platform. We feared that the deal would lead to the legitimisation of extreme right wing views and that the Strong and Stable Tories would bend to their every will.
And yet, it’s the Conservatives–the ‘socially compassionate’ party that proudly legalised same-sex marriage in the UK–that are vocally broadcasting these views in the mainland UK, not the DUP.
Whilst Jacob Rees-Mogg dismisses speculations around a Tory leadership contest as “all good silly season stuff”, that he is so popular among Conservative members highlights a worrying shift in British public opinion.
“Jacob Rees-Mogg is not the only member of his party that wants to drag us back to the 50s.”
Although it’s no secret that the Tories are, quite frankly, a despicable party that values the few over the many, in recent years they have worked hard to reshape their image into that of an economically conservative, socially liberal party (not that you can be economically conservative AND socially liberal, given the direct impact economics has on people’s everyday lives…). While they’ve cut disability benefits and dragged us out of the EU, they’ve generally steered clear of debates around the likes of abortion.
Rees-Mogg’s new-found popularity suggests that this period of social progressiveness might be coming to an end–and that is terrifying. Between Trump’s America and Britain’s grand Brexit, an anti-abortion, homophobic Tory leader (supported by an already emboldened right wing) would feel like the final nail in the coffin. Suddenly, American horror stories of brutal abortion bills could become British realities, even as Catholic Ireland votes to repeal the 8th Amendment.
Because make no mistake, Jacob Rees-Mogg is not an isolated Tory. He is not the only member of his party that wants to drag us back to the 50s, kicking and screaming. If his popularity continues to grow, others like him will begin to crawl out of the woodwork and reveal what most of us on the left already knew: that the Conservative Party is, at its core, inherently homophobic and misogynistic.
And is something that I am completely opposed to.