Rees-Mogg was born in Hammersmith, London, and was educated at Eton College. He studied History at Trinity College, Oxford, and was president of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He worked in the City of London for Lloyd George Management before setting up his own company, Somerset Capital Management. After several unsuccessful attempts to become an MP, he was elected to Parliament to represent North East Somerset in 2010.
Dubbed the "Honourable Member for the early twentieth century" by Quentin Letts for his upper-class mannerisms and accent as well as his traditionalist views, Rees-Mogg is a parliamentary figure noted for his humorous speeches.
A staunch Eurosceptic who once called for the Conservatives to form a political pact with the UK Independence Party, Rees-Mogg is one of the Conservatives' most rebellious MPs. As a practising Roman Catholic, Rees-Mogg opposed same-sex marriage on the basis that on such matters he took his whip from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, not the Whip's Office.
Rees-Mogg was born in the London district of Hammersmith on 24 May 1969, the youngest son of William Rees-Mogg (1928–2012), a former editor of The Times newspaper, created a Life Peer in 1988, by his wife Gillian Shakespeare Morris, a daughter of Thomas Richard Morris, a Conservative party local government polician and Mayor of St Pancras in London. He was one of five children, having three older siblings: Emma Beatrice Rees-Mogg (born 1962), Charlotte Louise Rees-Mogg (born 1964), Thomas Fletcher Rees-Mogg (born 1966) and one younger sister Annunziata Rees-Mogg. Prior to his birth the family purchased Ston Easton Park, a country house located near the village of Ston Easton, Somerset where Rees-Mogg grew up attending weekly mass and occasionally Sunday school at the Church of the Holy Ghost, Midsomer Norton. Here he started catechism in 1975 under his governess and attended mass in the ordinary form. Living in Somerset he regularly commuted to his family's second home in Smith Square, London where he also attended independent boys' school Westminster Under School. Growing up, Rees-Mogg became a Tory aged five, being raised by the family's nanny Veronica Crook whom he attributes as making him the man he is. Crook now looks after Rees-Mogg's own children, having worked for the family for over 50 years.
At the age of ten, having been left £50 by a distant cousin, his father on his behalf invested in shares in the now defunct General Electric Company (GEC) to which Rees-Mogg ascribes the start of his interest in stock markets. Having learned how to read company reports and balance sheets he later attended a shareholders’ meeting at GEC where he voted against a motion due to dividends being too low. From here he then invested in London-based conglomerate Lonrho, eventually owning 340 shares and reportedly causing the 'discomfort' of the company's chairman Lord Duncan-Sandys after quizzing him at an annual general meeting on the supposed mingy dividends offered to shareholders. Later in 1981 at GEC where he then owned 175 shares, he told the chairman Lord Nelson that the dividend on offer was 'pathetic', sparking both amusement among board members and media wishing to create a human interest story.
After preparatory school, Rees-Mogg enrolled at Eton College where he was described by a former teacher as a dogmatic Thatcherite with high opinions but yet never rebellious. Upon leaving Eton, he had his portrait painted by Paul Branson RP for the Eton College Collections, which was later put in display during the 'Faces of 1993' Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibit. He later read History at Trinity College, Oxford where he graduated with an upper second-class honours degree in 1991. While at Oxford he became president of the Oxford University Conservative Association and was a member and frequent debater at the Oxford Union, where he was elected Librarian. Reflecting on his time at university he admits regret at not having studied classics.
After leaving Oxford Rees-Mogg worked for the Rothschild investment bank before moving to Hong Kong to join the Global Emerging Markets division of Lloyd George Management. While in Hong Kong he became a close friend with its governor Chris Patten and was a regular at Government House. In 2007 having returned to the United Kingdom, he set up his own company, Somerset Capital Management.
Rees-Mogg first entered politics during the 1997 general election when he was chosen as the Conservative candidate for Central Fife, a traditional Labour seat in Scotland. With an upper-class background set against a predominantly working class electorate Rees-Mogg was criticised as being too posh, a claim he refused to acknowledge as an issue. As an eccentric figure arguing for retaining sovereignty in Westminster, he visited a housing estate in Leven, where he struggled to to understand the broad Fife accent while voters conversely found difficulty with his. News stories from the time ridiculed Rees-Mogg for canvassing the area with his family nanny and touring the constituency in a Bentley, a claim which he later denied, insisting a it had been a Mercedes. With a name recognition of less than 2%, Rees-Mogg managed to gain the third highest amount of votes on election night earning 9% of all votes cast, a figure much lower than that of previous Conservative candidates for the area.
In 1999, when it was being rumoured that his "anachronistically posh" accent was working against his chances of being selected for a safe Conservative seat, Rees-Mogg was defended by letter writers to The Daily Telegraph, one of whom claimed that "an overt form of intimidation exists, directed against anyone who dares to eschew the current, Americanised, mode of behaviour, speech and dress". Rees-Mogg himself stated (in The Sunday Times, 23 May 1999) that "it is rather pathetic to fuss about accents too much", though he then went on to say that "John Prescott's accent certainly stereotypes him as an oaf". He later said "I gradually realised that whatever I happened to be speaking about, the number of voters in my favour dropped as soon as I opened my mouth."
Rees-Mogg stood for the Wrekin in Shropshire in 2001, losing to the Labour MP Peter Bradley who achieved a 0.95% swing to Labour against the national trend of a 3.5% swing to the Conservatives. From 2005 to 2008, Rees-Mogg was the elected Chairman of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association.
In March 2009, Rees-Mogg was forced to apologise to Trevor Kavanagh, then political editor of The Sun, after it was shown that a newsletter signed by Rees-Mogg had plagiarised sections of a Kavanagh article that had appeared in the newspaper over a month earlier.
In December 2009, a pamphlet which purported to show him talking to a local constituent and calling on the government to "show more honesty" was criticised after it emerged that the "constituent" was a London-based employee of his investment firm.
He was one of the directors of the Catholic Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in London who were ordered to resign by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor in February 2008 after protracted arguments over the adoption of a tighter ethical code banning non-Catholic practices such as abortions and gender reassignment surgery at the hospital.
He was described by Camilla Long in a Sunday Times profile as "David Cameron’s worst nightmare" during the 2010 general election campaign. At that election, Rees-Mogg became the new Member of Parliament for the new North East Somerset constituency with a majority of 4,914 votes. His sister, journalist Annunziata Rees-Mogg, stood simultaneously in neighbouring Somerton and Frome, but failed to win her seat by 1,817 votes. The Guardian had previously criticised the damage done to the Tory message of social inclusion by the selection of two highly privileged candidates.
In the House of Commons, Rees-Mogg has gained a reputation for his humorous speeches and ability to filibuster.
The ConservativeHome blog rates Rees-Mogg as one of the Conservatives' most rebellious MPs. He has voted against the government whip on the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, the October 2011 European Union Referendum Motion and the House of Lords Reform Bill 2012.
He also helped filibuster the Daylight Saving Bill 2010–12 and the Sustainable Livestock Bill 2010–12, thus preventing their passage through Parliament. In his long speech on the Sustainable Livestock Bill, he recited poetry; spoke of the superior quality of Somerset eggs, and mentioned the fictional pig, the Empress of Blandings, who won silver at the Shropshire County Show three years in a row, before moving on to talk about the sewerage system and the Battle of Agincourt. He also attempted to amend the Daylight Saving Bill to give the county of Somerset its own time zone, fifteen minutes behind London.
In a debate on London Local Authorities Bill on 7 December 2011, he said that council officials who have the power to issue on-the-spot fines should be made to wear bowler hats.
On 21 February 2012, Rees-Mogg made the record books with the use of the word "floccinaucinihilipilification"—meaning "the habit of considering as worthless"—which became the longest word ever uttered on the floor of the House of Commons, and the second-longest word recorded in Hansard. (The longest word recorded in Hansard is "antiecclesiasticaldisestablishmentarianism", and the longest word spoken on the Parliamentary estate is "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis".)
In January 2014, he dismissed the sum of £250,000 spent on MPs' portraits as trivial by saying "I’m all for saving money, saving money right, left and centre, but this is chicken feed."
For the Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 2016 Rees-Mogg initially supported Boris Johnson, but later gave his endorsement to Michael Gove after Johnson chose not to run, and then Andrea Leadsom after Gove was eliminated.
Rees-Mogg is widely regarded as a potential candidate for the leadership of his party, something he is reportedly considering. On 13 August, however, Rees-Mogg said that such speculation was "part of media’s silly season". One Conservative MP, Heidi Allen, announced in August she would leave the party if he became leader.
In December 2014, Rees-Mogg was reported to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for speaking in debates on tobacco, mining and oil and gas without first verbally declaring he is founding partner and director of Somerset Capital which has multimillion-pound investments in these sectors. However, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, decided that no wrongdoing had been committed and so no investigation would take place.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Rees-Mogg's extra-parliamentary work took up 476 hours or 9 hours per week in 2014.
Following the 2017 general election, calls were made for Theresa May to step down as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party after failing to win an overall majority in the House of Commons. This led news outlets to begin speculating on May's possible successor with Boris Johnson touted as the bookmakers' favourite and Rees-Mogg being given 50/1 odds. A day after the election on 9 June an online petition, titled Ready for Rees-Mogg, was set up urging Rees-Mogg to run for leader of the Conservative Party. Hoping to mirror the success of pro-Corbyn activist group Momentum, a 'play on words' hashtag of Moggmentum was created. By the 8 July the campaign had attracted over 13,000 signatures and raised £2,000 in donations with leadership odds being slashed to 16/1 making him second favourite behind David Davis. On 14 August co-founder of Ready for Rees-Mogg Sam Frost announced the petition had gathered 22,000 registered supporters, 700 volunteers and £7,000 in donations, despite Rees-Mogg having said a day earlier that such speculation was "part of media’s silly season". In a radio interview with BBC Radio 4, fellow Conservative MP Heidi Allen stated she would leave the party if he became leader. A few weeks later on the 5 September a poll conducted by ConservativeHome put Rees-Mogg as the favourite for next leader, with 23% of the votes based on 1,309 people surveyed.
Rees-Mogg's political views have been described as High Tory, reactionary, traditionalist, right-wing populist, and socially conservative. Rees-Mogg is a staunch monarchist. He is a member of the Cornerstone Group.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph in May 2013, the Eurosceptic Rees-Mogg, asked whether it was time to make a "big open and comprehensive offer" to the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He said collaboration would be straightforward as policies were similar on "many issues" and most Conservatives would prefer Nigel Farage to Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister. His remarks angered his party leadership whilst UKIP said it was against any formal arrangements. In 2017, he supported the confidence and supply agreement made between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Counter to the Conservatives' U-turn on turning state schools into academies, Rees-Mogg is a proponent of academy-based education reasoning that it gives schools more freedom from local education authorities to make decisions and cuts down on bureaucracy.
Rees-Mogg is a supporter of zero-hour contracts, arguing that they benefit employees, including students, by providing flexibility and could provide a route into more permanent employment. He rejected criticism by Vince Cable and others that they were exploitative as "the standard response of the left".
Regarding climate change he thinks solutions that do not hinder technological progress should be sought. He has argued for abolition of environmental protections: “We could say, if it’s good enough in India, it’s good enough for here. There’s nothing to stop that. We could take it a very long way...I accept that we’re not going to allow dangerous toys to come in from China, we don’t want to see those kind of risks. But there’s a very long way you can go.”
As a vocal critic of the European Union Rees-Mogg was a leading figure in the campaign for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union appearing in a number of interviews to debate the topic. Speaking at the Oxford Union he described the EU as a threat to British democracy and to the sovereignty of parliament citing various countries' rejection of the European Constitution which was later implemented via the Treaty of Lisbon.
In September 2017 Rees-Mogg suggested that food banks fulfil a vital function, and proceeded to argue that "to have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are". He went on to argue that "the real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they are there and Labour deliberately didn't tell them." During the same interview Rees-Mogg conceded that people have “found life tough” but suggested the best way out of poverty was through employment.
Initially a supporter of Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election, he distanced himself from the then-Republican nominee after the Donald Trump and Billy Bush recording surfaced in October 2016. Rees-Mogg later described Trump as being "sympathetic to the UK" out of "genuine affection" for the country.
Rees-Mogg has been critical of British involvement in the Syrian Civil War, criticizing a proposal to arm the Syrian rebels, and arguing that "The consequences of the efforts to undermine Assad have been the rise of terrorism and the mass movement of people."
Rees-Mogg has previously voted for a stricter asylum system and a more controlled immigration policy in order to reduce net migration. As a supporter of Brexit he is in favour of the end of free movement of people to the United Kingdom, however wants the rights of current EU citizens living in the UK to be protected and not retrospectively retracted.
Regarding same-sex marriage, Rees-Mogg has stated that he is opposed to it and "not proud" of it being legal as it does not align with his Catholic faith and that it will alienate traditional supporters of the party. In an interview with Radio 4, Rees-Mogg said that he had made it quite clear to his constituents that in this sort of matter he takes his whip from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church rather than the Whip’s Office. He later elaborated that in his view "marriage is a sacrament and the decision of what is a sacrament lies with the Church, not with Parliament." Despite his stance, Rees-Mogg has said that there is "no question of any of these laws being changed" and that it wasn't for him to enforce his morals on others.
Also relating to his religious views, Rees-Mogg is against abortion in all circumstances, including in cases of rape, stating "I am completely opposed to abortion, life begins at the point of conception. With same-sex marriage, that is something that people are doing for themselves. With abortion, that is what people are doing to the unborn child." However, he also noted he believes the UK's abortion laws are "not going to change".
Rees-Mogg has described increased access to emergency contraception as "a great sadness, because life begins at the point of conception".
In 2006, Rees-Mogg was critical of efforts by then-Conservative leader David Cameron to increase the numbers of ethnic minorities on the party candidate list, stating, "Ninety-five per cent of this country is white. The list can't be totally different from the country at large."
On 17 May 2013, Rees-Mogg addressed the Traditional Britain Group annual dinner. Following media reports highlighting the groups' advocacy of repatriating black Britons, Rees-Mogg distanced himself from the group, saying he had "clearly made a mistake" by accepting the invitation. Rees-Mogg acknowledged that Searchlight, an anti-fascist magazine, had contacted him to warn that the Traditional Britain Group promoted extreme right-wing policies regarding immigration, but says that at the time he had believed the group's reassurances that these were "unfounded smears".
On 30 April 2006, Rees-Mogg became engaged to Helena de Chair, a writer for a trade magazine and the only child of Somerset de Chair and his fourth wife Lady Juliet Tadgell. As close friend of his sister, de Chair and Rees-Mogg had first met as children and began dating the summer prior to their engagement after Rees-Mogg gained the blessing of de Chair's mother Lady Juliet Tadgell. Owing to Rees-Mogg being a Catholic and de Chair an Anglican, the couple were married in an ecumenical ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral, Kent on 14 January 2007 with 650 guests in attendance including Earl and Countess of Leicester; Lord St John Fawsley; Peter and Virginia Bottomley; and former MP Lord Brooke. As part of the service, the Abbot of Downside Abbey Dom Aidan Bellenger conducted a Latin Tridentine Mass, an event Rees-Mogg enjoys attending when available in Somerset. Together the couple have six children and live at Gournay Court in West Harptree.Peter Theodore Alphege Rees-Mogg (b. 2007)
Mary Anne Charlotte Emma Rees-Mogg (b. 2008)
Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan Rees-Mogg (b. 2010)
Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam Rees-Mogg (b. 2012)
Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius Rees-Mogg (b. 22 February 2016)
Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher Rees-Mogg (b. July 2017)
Speaking in July 2017 Rees-Mogg conceded that '"I’ve made no pretence to be a modern man at all, ever". During the same interview, Rees-Mogg admitted that he had never changed a nappy, noting that “I don’t think nanny would approve because I’m sure she’d think I wouldn’t do it properly”. These remarks sparked criticism from other MPs. In September 2017 Labour MP Harriet Harman argued that “Men who don’t change nappies are deadbeat dads – and that includes Jacob Rees-Mogg”.
Of his extended family, Rees-Mogg is the grandson of Thomas Richard Morris, a former mayor of St Pancras and the uncle of Olympic athlete Lawrence Clarke.
On 15 July 2017 he joined Twitter, writing in Latin: Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis. ("the times change, and we change with them").
As a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Historic Vehicles, Rees-Mogg has an interest in historic cars, first purchasing a 1968 T-Series Bentley previously owned by cricketer Gubby Allen at the age of 23 and which he reportedly used while canvasing for votes in Central Fife. Later in 2005 Rees-Mogg added a 1936 3.5 Litre Bentley to his collection alongside a Lexus for everyday use.
Rees-Mogg is also a cricket enthusiast and has supported Somerset County Cricket Club since his youth.