Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative grassroots' favoured candidate to succeed Theresa May, has said he is against same-sex marriage and opposes abortion even in cases of rape.
The Tory Eurosceptic MP, whose growing profile has seen him tipped for a ministerial role in the prime minister’s next reshuffle, said he was a practising Catholic and opposed abortion in all circumstances.
Asked by ITV’s Good Morning Britain whether he was in favour of same-sex marriage, the Old Etonian said: “I’m a Catholic, I take the teaching of the Catholic church seriously. Marriage is a sacrament and the view of what marriage is is taken by the church, not parliament.”
"I support the teaching of the Catholic Church. The marriage issue is the important thing, this is not how people arrange their lives."
Mr Rees-Mogg, who is a father of six, said he was “completely opposed to abortion” and said he believed life began 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,” he said.
Asked whether he would be against terminations in all circumstances including rape, he replied: “Afraid so.”
Mr Rees-Mogg, who recently topped a ConservativeHome poll of Conservative party members as their favoured next prime minister, called speculations about a run for the leadership “all good silly season stuff. It was fun in August when there wasn’t much news about.”
The MP said he would not be a candidate if there was a leadership election. He added: “I fully support Mrs May; I want her to remain leader of the Tory party.”
But he declined to categorically rule out a bid in the future, saying: “I am a backbench MP . In the history of the prime ministership [it] has never gone to a backbench MP. It would be a vanity for me to be thinking about the leadership.”
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said Mr Rees-Mogg's "extreme" views were "wildly at odds" with public opinion. It highlighted the decriminalisation this year of abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and MPs' support for extending abortion access for women resident in Northern Ireland.
Katherine O’Brien, head of policy research at Bpas, said: “We are a pro-choice country, we have a pro-choice parliament. Mr Rees-Mogg’s stance on abortion is quite simply extreme, and extremely out of touch.
“Every politician is entitled to hold their own opinion on abortion. But what matters is whether they would let their own personal convictions stand in the way of women’s ability to act on their own.”