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Jacob Rees-Mogg: The Conservative Party's most loyal rebel (illustration by Michael Daley)

Jacob Rees-Mogg is a thoroughly modern Conservative backbencher, although at first sight — with his fogeyish manner, fondness for quoting Latin and old-fashioned double-breasted suits — the Honourable Member for North East Somerset may give the impression of having stepped straight out of the 1950s. (In fact, he was born in 1969). His appearances as the butt of the panel's jokes about Tory toffs on the BBC's Have I Got News for You do nothing to dispel this notion. It is further reinforced by reports of Rees-Mogg taking his nanny, Veronica Crook — who now helps to look after his own four children and has worked for the family for 47 years — canvassing with him both in his current constituency and in his earlier doomed attempts to be elected for Central Fife in 1997 and The Wrekin in 2001.

Yet Rees-Mogg is in fact a forward-looking liberal Conservative, albeit a profoundly Eurosceptic one. He is comfortable with modern Britain and does not hark back to some mythical golden age.

Too many of today's Identikit politicians have moved straight from university to being a political researcher and special adviser, with an interlude of a few years in lobbying or public affairs, before entering parliament in their early thirties. This is not the case with Rees-Mogg.

Still only 40 when entering parliament in 2010 for his marginal seat, he has had a successful career in finance. He worked for Rothschild Investment Management and then in Hong Kong for Lloyd George Management (set up by the Welsh Wizard's great-grandson Robert) before in 2007 setting up, with three others, Somerset Asset Management, an employee-owned London- and Singapore-based emerging markets fund with $5.5 billion under management. Rees-Mogg is still actively involved in the fund, being one of the last few MPs to have significant outside interests.

What is even more unusual is that those business interests do not stem from inherited wealth, nor are they a corollary of parliamentary work (several former ministers are only employed because of their parliamentary know-how and connections). In all likelihood Rees-Mogg would have been more prosperous if he had not entered parliament. This is one reason for his not having taken any ministerial preferment. The other is his rebelliousness.

Ever since being elected Rees-Mogg has been a persistent rebel — predominantly on Europe but also on other matters such as parliamentary recall and most recently on a Bill enshrining Britain's commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on overseas aid. While his sentiments on aid are widely shared in the parliamentary Conservative party, even by the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Rees-Mogg was one of only eight MPs who were brave enough to attempt to derail the Bill.

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Alan Norman
December 31st, 2014
3:12 PM
There's something mre than a little heroic about the attempt to portray Mr Rees-Mogg as a man of the people. If this doesn't earn Mr Mosbacher his OBN nothing will.

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