Standing alone? Rees-Mogg's opinions are thankfully less and less commonJacob Rees-Mogg Facebook

Jacob Rees-Mogg is the latest in a long line of rich, straight, white men who for some reason think abortion and same-sex marriage are any of their business. I don’t have a problem with Rees-Mogg personally abstaining from same-sex marriage or abortion, but when a politician uses their status and media following to propagate the idea that either of these should be up for debate, then the issue stops being one of personal choice and starts to raise questions about human rights and the kind of society we want to live in, especially since Rees-Mogg apparently has an appeal to young people who are using him to validate their own prejudices.

Rees-Mogg informed us earlier this month that he is “completely opposed to abortion” as he believes life begins at conception. When asked whether he would be opposed to abortion even in the case of the rape of a young girl, he replied “Afraid so.” Just to clarify then, this is a man who, despite being a father himself, would rather force a young girl to carry a child that was conceived through rape, with all the physical and psychological consequences, than allow her access to a safe abortion. He would also advocate the continuation of pregnancies that threaten the life of both the mother and the child.

"Where was Rees-Mogg’s devout Catholicism when his party were planning to bomb Syria, or cutting crucial services for those in need?"

It’s at this point that I begin to question where exactly he left his logic, let alone his compassion: surely his religious desire to protect life becomes somewhat self-defeating when it destroys the life of a woman as well as a potential baby. No one takes abortion lightly, but if women are not allowed access to safe abortions then the only difference will be that they are forced to risk their lives at illegal backstreet clinics.

In the very same interview, he confirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage, playing the religion card yet again to avoid sounding like the straightforward homophobe he really is. And yet, much as I would love to laugh off his comments, the reality is that his words have a tangible impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ people. Not only does hearing a politician invalidate your right to marry the person you love have a deep psychological effect on young LGBTQ+ people, but The Guardian has found that homophobic attacks in Britain rose by a shocking 147 per cent in the three months following the Brexit vote. The past year has unearthed a nasty, intolerant streak in our apparently progressive society, leaving many people vulnerable.

It's time people stopped using Christianity as an excuse for intolerance. Where was Rees-Mogg’s devout Catholicism when his party were planning to bomb Syria, or cutting crucial services for those in need? These are complicated issues, but if, in his own words, “the Catholic Church’s teachings are authoritative”, surely he can’t have missed the part in the big book where charity and loving thy neighbour take centre stage? I’m not suggesting he abandon his religion, but that he should be more consistent with his faith, or stop using it as a smokescreen for his own prejudices.

The scary thing is that Rees-Mogg's recent comments should be enough to exclude him from politics forever, but in our current political climate it's him being tipped for the next Conservative leader, and becoming “famous for his eccentricity [and] championing British values”, according to the BBC. It seems so strange to me that any young people could support those famous “British values” of homophobia, misogyny and intolerance, especially when voiced by the man probably least representative of Britain ever. Not only did he call his sixth child Sixtus, but Rees-Mogg, from his Grade II listed manor house in Somerset, has decided that the growing use of food banks in the UK is “rather uplifting”, instead of – I don’t know – the crazy notion that it might reflect the growing inequality that he represents and benefits from.

Surely, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the Brexit debacle it’s that the phrase “British values” should be left in the 1940s with everything it stands for, so please don’t be fooled into mistaking intolerant narrow-mindedness and excessive privilege for quaint eccentricity.

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