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Gary Oliver: Mogg, Mogg, glorious Mogg


On 11 December, several days after the Brexit Phase 1 deal had contained the ominous Clause 49, ‘in the absence of agreed solutions the UK will maintain full alignment’, Kathy Gyngell lamented the disappearance of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Having long been the media’s go-to guy, it was a worrying silence by the man who has been by far the most articulate champion of full Brexit. Thankfully, JRM subsequently echoed TCW’s Andrew Cadman that the EU’s plans would leave the UK a vassal state and, when interviewed on Newsnight, he was emphatic that during the transition period we must not be a ‘colony of Brussels’.

It was a welcome and forceful performance by The Mogg, though we wait to see whether in future his words translate into meaningful action. But since then, Jacob Rees-Mogg has become the subject of a much more pressing question: is he a sex god?

One person who believes so is 23-year-old Georgia Toffolo, recent winner of I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here! Though no stranger to tacky television, I confess that until she emerged victorious from the jungle Georgia had not registered on my radar. With hindsight, I do have a vague recollection of Ms Toffolo appearing on This Week some months ago and, from what I recall, being considerably more lucid than most of the toe-curlingly awful minor celebrities who have occupied what we might term ‘The Pete Doherty slot’.

The reality TV show for which Ms Toffolo is best known, Made In Chelsea, is one of which I sadly remain ignorant, though I live in hope of there being a box set in my Christmas stocking. But Georgia’s post-jungle interviews certainly caught my attention when she swooned ‘Jacob’s a sex god. The human mind can be sexy. He’s so clever, I just love him.’

The ladies of TCW are more suited to comment on the veracity of this, and are also better qualified to judge the desirability or otherwise of Jacob Rees-Mogg in double-breasted pyjamas (‘I don’t have any but I’d love to find out where I can buy some’). Nevertheless, even I, a heterosexual male, can experience a frisson when Jacob Rees-Mogg is, ahem, in full flow.

Reacting to Georgia setting her cap at him, Jacob of course responded in gentlemanly fashion: he described himself as ‘greatly surprised but nonetheless flattered’, wished her ‘a glittering career’, and diffidently tweeted that Ms Toffolo ‘should have gone to Specsavers’. Though there were the inevitable dissenters – ‘Don’t sell yourself short, Jacob; your looks are far from being your least attractive quality’ is one which did make me laugh – that Twitter thread soon filled with further endorsements from what appears to be quite a cross-section of women.

Of course some chippy class warriors sneer at Jacob Rees-Mogg as an out-of-touch toff, and a section of so-called progressives complain that his views on abortion and same-sex marriage are beyond the pale. Yet there is ample evidence that Jacob has the ability to cross divides, and in particular to charm women. The SNP’s Mhairi Black, a lesbian, has referred to The Mogg as her ‘Westminster boyfriend’. And in Jacob’s presence, the strident Jess Phillips, normally so dismissive of men that it is difficult to believe she is actually married to one, is transformed into a giddy schoolgirl, giggling coquettishly at his witticisms and neat turns of phrase.

My own favourite example of JRM’s dry wit is his Instagram posting of The Moggfather and son, on the stump, outside a tattooist’s shop displaying a Labour poster: ‘We shall have to take our business elsewhere’. (Evidently Jacob was much too polite to comment on the wisdom of being inked by someone advertising tattoo’s [sic].)

Of course, impeccable manners and self-deprecating quips will take a politician only so far; Jacob Rees-Mogg, though, also can also marshal his fully-formed sentences into cogent arguments that resonate with wider audiences. His performance on Question Time in Burton-on-Trent on 6 July 2017, in which he won the crowd with confident explanations of potentially difficult positions, remains a masterclass: no one in recent memory has similarly commanded the programme, to the extent that at one point fellow panellist and Labour MP Richard Burgon despairingly referred to it having become ‘The Jacob Rees-Mogg show’.

Despite unprecedented grassroots support, JRM constantly dismisses the notion that he is a candidate to replace Theresa May, describing such ambition as ‘above one’s station’. Mind you, since her election debacle Jacob has also repeatedly claimed that the PM should remain in office ‘for ever and ever, Amen, Amen, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen’, which surely is as close as The Mogg gets to outright sarcasm, so perhaps we ought to keep an open mind.

Although a ‘humble backbencher’, since the EU referendum Rees-Mogg has become ubiquitous, successfully combining being a radio host on LBC and guest on Have I Got News For You with being the conscience of Brexit and an increasingly rare voice for social conservatism. Though derided by some as anachronistic and reactionary, for one who espouses often unfashionable views his popularity is remarkable. And though it is easy to scoff at the impact of low-rent television, being proclaimed a ‘sex god’ by the 23-year-old newly-crowned Queen of the Jungle, who can boast 1.7million followers on Instagram, must only add to Jacob’s celebrity.

With apologies to Flanders and Swann: Mogg, Mogg, glorious Mogg, nothing quite like him for stirring the blood. Just ask Georgia Toffolo.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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