If there’s one politician Donald Trump absolutely has to meet on his trip to the UK this summer, it’s Conservative backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Though the two men are oceans apart in terms of style and personality – the Jacob being the quintessential English gentleman; the Donald not – what they both possess in spades is the most extraordinary, winning frankness. They would, I’m sure get on like a house on fire. Indeed, with a fair wind, they would make the greatest U.S. president/UK prime minister double act since the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
That’s because they tell it like it is. In common with Thatcher and Reagan, they are not afraid that speaking their mind might get them into trouble. They genuinely believe that what they have to say is right and true. So why would they need to hide their views behind a wall of obfuscation or virtue-signalling cant, like all the beta politicians do?
If you’re unfamiliar with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s brilliance – or if you are familiar and just need reminding why he so ought to be Britain’s next prime minister – just check out this interview he gave to Sky News’s Kay Burley.
The key sequence begins at 2.00 minutes in when Burley says: “You describe yourself as a man of the people. But you said it in Latin…”
Rees-Mogg, as ever, is unfazed. Note the way before answering he shows who is boss by taking an ostentatious slurp of his tea. (Tea which, of course, he is drinking not out of a mug but an almost aggressively reactionary willow-pattern china tea cup.)
Then Rees-Mogg begins. First, he unbalances Burley – not undeservedly: the question was, after all, designed to unbalance him – by simultaneously correcting her mistranslation and showing himself to be comfortable with and unembarrassed by his use of Latin.
“I said ‘vox populi, vox Dei’ – the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
After this sly put down, he moves on to the crux of his case. Ingeniously, he has converted Burley’s attempted-piss-take into a launch pad for his personal manifesto.
“I’ve always been very suspicious of politicians who pretend that they can be Everyman. We are all individuals. And we all have our own concerns, hopes, fears, view of the world. And we can have empathy with other people’s. But we can’t be other people’s. And you certainly can’t be two, three, four, ten million people’s view of the world. So what you have to do is set your stall as to what you believe in, what you think you represent – and see if that appeals to people. And see if you can have an understanding of how what you believe in can help people improve their lives and achieve what they want to achieve in their life.
What’s politics about? I think fundamentally conservative politics is about helping people to lead the lives they want to lead. And taking obstacles out of their way.”
He makes conservatism sound so simple. And of course, when expressed by people who get it and who believe in it, it really is that simple.
Rees-Mogg is so clear, so logical, so intellectually uncompromised that he puts all Britain’s other conservative politicians to shame. No wonder Theresa May won’t let him anywhere near her Cabinet. His integrity and brilliance are just too much of a threat.