Jacob Rees-Mogg branded '˜extreme' for opposition to abortion

Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has been branded 'extreme' after revealing he is opposed to abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg sought to play down suggestions that he is considering a bid for the Conservative leadership.  Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg sought to play down suggestions that he is considering a bid for the Conservative leadership. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Catholic father-of-six, often dubbed “the MP for the 18th century” over his old-fashioned ways, also signalled his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who has been tipped as a candidate for taking over Theresa May’s job as Tory leader and even prime minister, said abortion was “morally indefensible”.

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A spokesman for the Prime Minister made clear that she does not agree with him, but stressed that abortion was an issue for individual MPs’ conscience.

“It’s a long-standing principle that abortion is for Parliament and for individual MPs and is a matter of conscience for them,” said the spokesman

“The Prime Minister doesn’t happen to agree, but it is a matter of conscience.”

Mr Rees-Mogg’s views have come under closer scrutiny since he began being mentioned as a possible future Tory leader over the summer. Earlier this week, he was named as favourite to succeed Mrs May among activists taking part in a ConservativeHome straw poll.

Challenged over his position on social issues, he told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain: “I’m completely opposed to abortion. Life begins at the point of conception.”

He added: “With same-sex marriage, that is something that people are doing for themselves, with abortion it is something that is done to the unborn child.”

Asked if he was opposed to abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest, he said: “Yes I am. I’m afraid so. Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception and I think it is wrong.”

A woman who became pregnant as a result of rape would have a right to an abortion under UK law which “is not going to change”, he said.

And he said he would not try to stop her “because that wouldn’t be the law of the land”.

But he added: “My personal opinion is that life begins at the point of conception and abortion is morally indefensible.”

On same-sex marriage, Mr Rees-Mogg said: ““The teaching of the Catholic church is completely clear. I don’t want to criticise people who lead lives that are different to mine, but equally I don’t want to divert from the historic teaching of the Catholic church.”

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said Mr Rees-Mogg’s “extreme” views were “wildly at odds” with public opinion.