The Sunday Times Magazine - UK (2022-05-01)

(EriveltonMoraes) #1
The Sunday Times Magazine • 13

Rees-Mogg was referring when Sixtus was
felled by a football was specifically to do
with freeing up capital that insurance
companies are required to hold under
EU rules to stop them going insolvent.
The ideas from the tabloid readers on
what to tackle next are on a spreadsheet in
his Westminster office, awaiting his full
attention while he has been touring TV and
radio studios pronouncing on everything

from the need for civil servants to stop
working from home and return to the office
to defending his boss over partygate.
He has argued that the latter is “fluff ”
when set against global events — a lofty

dismissal that angered some critics. Adding
fuel to the fire, he later said any government
inquiry into partygate should concentrate
not on whether Downing Street gatherings
broke rules but whether they were too
strict to begin with, especially in banning
relatives of the terminally ill from holding
the hands of their loved ones.
“It was wrong to ban comfort to the
dying,” he says.
It has been argued that Rees-Mogg, who
like Boris Johnson was educated at Eton
and Oxford, has the prime minister’s
charisma minus the peccadilloes. Maybe so,
but surely he is out of step with voters amid
the cost-of-living crisis? Supposedly he has
amassed a private fortune of £100 million.
“Oh no, no, this is such nonsense,” he
says. “I am not going to put a figure on it but
any estimate I have seen is frankly absurd.”
Is he worth millions in double figures?
“I would be very happy if that were true,
but no.”
The investment firm he co-founded in
2007, Somerset Capital Management, has
repeatedly made headlines. In 2017 he was
forced to admit it profited from pills used in
abortions, defending the firm’s £5 million
investment in an Indonesian company,
Kalbe Farma. “It would be wrong to pretend
that I like it but the world is not always what
you want it to be,” Rees-Mogg told the
Sunday Mirror. None of his own money
was invested in the fund.
The following year the firm opened an
investment fund in Dublin with a prospectus
that listed Brexit as a risk to the UK, saying
it could cause “considerable uncertainty”.
He defended the move, stating: “The
decision to launch the fund was nothing
whatsoever to do with Brexit.”
He has since resigned his part-time role
as fund manager and is now a sleeping
partner. “I’m a shareholder. I have a stake
in it but I have no active role and my voting
rights are frozen for the period for which
I am a minister,” he says. He insists he took
no part in the firm’s decision to sell a stake
in a Russian bank shortly before the bank’s
shares plummeted in the build-up to
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He rejects suggestions that he’s out of
touch with ordinary people, pointing out
that since he was first elected in 2010 to
represent North East Somerset, mainly
a rural and farming community, he has
increased his majority to more than 14,000.
“The government should have no
regulation and no tax that is not essential,”
he says. “People should be free to lead
their own lives as far as possible without
government interference.”
So how has a man who prefers pounds
and ounces to kilograms, listens to
Gregorian chants on the car stereo and
admits to never having owned a pair of
jeans or a T-shirt, let alone Rishi Sunak-
inspired gold-trimmed trainers, emerged
as such an influential figure?

Supposedly he has amassed


a private fortune of £


million. “Oh no, no, this is


such nonsense. I am not


going to put a figure on it”


Rees-Mogg, 52, became the
minister for Brexit opportunities
in February after a spell away
from the political front line

STUART McCLYMONT FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE, MIRRORPIX, TIMES NEWSPAPERS LTD ➤

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