The silly season peaked with the ever-increasing rumours that Jacob Rees-Mogg was planning a tilt at the Tory leadership. In the strange times we live in, however, in August this was taken sufficiently seriously for a number of respectable journalists to consider the possibility of Rees-Mogg’s ascension.
Now, though, two things have happened to ensure Rees-Mogg’s leadership ambitions will remain a warped fantasy. First, Theresa May has performed her favourite trick of plotting to sabotage a rival by giving him a big job. Second, Activate, the Tory imitation of Momentum which last week was engulfed in scandal because its members talked about “gassing chavs”, has begun to actively campaign for Rees-Mogg.
Why are rumours circulating about Rees-Mogg being offered a ministerial role bad news for him? Because, for now, he is the voice of a certain section of the Conservative Party which is raging against Theresa May’s leadership and her handling of Brexit. He is the emblem of a weird right-wing insurgency in a populist age. And Mrs. May has form in giving her rivals jobs they can’t handle in order to sabotage them. Think of her Brexit three: Messrs Davis, Johnson and Fox.
Far more worrying for Rees-Mogg, though, will be the endorsement he has received from Activate. Shortly after sharing yet another ridiculous meme, Activate published yet another grammatically invalid press release:
It is quite remarkable to see the Tory version of Momentum actively calling for the replacement of a sitting Tory prime minister. Momentum can do this job for them. For Rees-Mogg, however, this is the endorsement from Hell. It confirms him as a fringe, joke candidate who appeals to a certain type of marginalised, insecure Tory activist. This is hardly the kind of backing that will convince Tory MPs to support him for the premiership.
Still, we live in strange political times. Few would have predicted Corbyn’s leadership, Brexit or Donald Trump’s presidency, and perhaps even fewer now predict that a man backed by an organisation which wants to “gas chavs” will ever become Tory prime minister. But you never know.