Jacob Rees-Mogg's bizarre defence of Boris Johnson - 'He's not Kim Jong-un'

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read
Jacob Rees Mogg came up with an unusual comparison talking about Boris Johnson facing a vote of no confidence (PA/Reuters)
Jacob Rees Mogg came up with an unusual comparison with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un while talking about Boris Johnson facing a vote of no confidence. (PA/Reuters)

Jacob Rees-Mogg has offered up an unusual defence of Boris Johnson, comparing him to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as the prime minister gears up to face a vote of no confidence.

On Monday morning, it was announced that the 15% threshold had been reached for Tory MPs to hold a vote on the future of the prime minister.

That means at least 15% of Tory MPs feel strongly enough that Johnson is the wrong leader for the party and have formally written to the chairman of the 1922 Committee and called for him to resign.

Rees-Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities, said the vote was a "routine of politics".

He told Sky News: "Our leaders are not like Kim Jong-un, they don't have their party supporting them fully at all times so I don't think getting to the 15% bar is particularly damaging or surprising, I think it's a relatively low bar and easy to get to."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in Downing Street, London, following the publication of Sue Gray's report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture date: Wednesday May 25, 2022.
Boris Johnson is facing a vote of no confidence. (PA)

He added there were other PMs who had survived a vote of no confidence: "I wouldn’t focus on a narrow particular rule, I would just look at the generality of politics that there are always people who want the top job and a lot of people who’ve been public in recent days clearly want the top job for themselves and they therefore stir things up a bit,” he said.

“And we will see – I hope the prime minister will win the vote later on today and then calm everything down.”

Read more: No confidence vote - What happens if Boris Johnson wins or loses tonight?

Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency in the Cabinet Office Jacob Rees-Mogg arrives at the Cabinet Office in London, following the publication of the Sue Gray report into parties in Whitehall during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture date: Wednesday May 25, 2022.
Minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency in the Cabinet Office Jacob Rees-Mogg made a strange comparison. (PA)

Rees-Mogg – an ardent Johnson supporter – also stated that victory in the secret ballot by as little as a solitary vote would be a sufficient mandate for his leader to continue leading the party.

“One is enough, it’s no good saying that the rules of the party say something and then behind it unofficially, there is some other rule that nobody knows and is invented for the purpose," he said.

Rees-Mogg's position is at odds with his comments following a no-confidence vote in Theresa May four years ago.

Speaking after the then-PM won with a majority of 83 MPs, Rees-Mogg called for her "to go and see the Queen and urgently resign" because she had lost the support of backbench MPs.

Tim Montgomerie, founder of the ConservativeHome website which is seen as a bellwether of Tory membership opinion, dismissed the support of Rees-Mogg as unrepresentative of the party.

He said: "People around Boris like Nadine [Dorries] are willing to trash any other Conservative who gets in their way. Jacob Rees-Mogg describing the Scottish Tory leader as a 'lightweight' is another example. They are Team Boris. They aren’t Team Tory."

As would be expected, many cabinet ministers have also given their public backing to the prime minister – including those who could seek to replace him if he is forced out.

(seated at table, left to right) International Trade Secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency in the Cabinet Office Jacob Rees-Mogg and Attorney General Suella Braverman during a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 24, 2022.
Senior Tories, including his many of his cabinet members, have been rallying behind the PM. (PA)

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said: “The prime minister has my 100% backing in today’s vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him.

“He has delivered on COVID recovery and supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He has apologised for mistakes made. We must now focus on economic growth.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said “the PM has shown the strong leadership our country needs”.

“I am backing him today and will continue to back him as we focus on growing the economy, tackling the cost of living and clearing the Covid backlogs."

Read more: Jeremy Hunt urges Tory MPs to vote no confidence in Boris Johnson

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a politburo meeting of the Worker's Party on the country's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak response in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 21, 2022.    KCNA via REUTERS    ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
Kim Jong-un is the dictator of North Korea. (Reuters)

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said: “The PM has got the big calls right – securing life-saving vaccines, firing up our economy and standing up to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.

“We need to back him, unite and focus on delivering the people’s priorities.”

Speaking shortly after Brady made his announcement, health secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News: “If there is (a vote) the prime minister will stand and fight his corner with a very, very strong case.”

Meanwhile, a No 10 spokeswoman said: “Tonight is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on, delivering on the people’s priorities.

“The PM welcomes the opportunity to make his case to MPs and will remind them that when they’re united and focused on the issues that matter to voters, there is no more formidable political force.”

Watch: Starmer calls for Tory MPs to "step up and get rid" of Boris Johnson

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