I was being ironic, says the only Tory MP to back Jacob Rees Mogg for PM
It looks like Rees Mogg does not have the support of Jesse Norman after all.
Jacob Rees Mogg may be the darling of this year’s Conservative party conference and the favoured choice of many party members for next leader.
But he has struggled to attract parliamentary supporters, with fellow old Etonian Jess Norman so far the only MP to have opened the door to a Rees Mogg premiership.
Or so we thought.
Norman was recently asked whether another product of exclusive private school could become prime minister in the future.
"I think Jacob Rees-Mogg would be an outstanding candidate," replied the transport minister, who has previously been considered to be in the Boris Johnson camp. "I can only admire the Moggmentum that’s already underway."
It led to reports that Norman had been "swept up by the ‘Moggmentum’ behind the eccentric backbencher". But the MP has now insisted he was not being serious, actually.
In an interview with The House magazine, he said: "I made an ironic comment about Jacob that’s been hopelessly ripped out of context."
That means that Rees Mogg – who insists he does not want to be leader anyway and is thought to have his eye on John Brecow's job - does not have any obvious parliamentary backers after all.
But at least he has been packing the conference fringes and getting the chance to have “spirited” debate with his detractors.