Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has moved to quash speculation that he is considering a leadership bid, insisting he backs Theresa May “unequivocally”.
The Old Etonian, who has gained something of a cult following, was reported to have been “sounding out” friends about a possible run amid speculation Mrs May could face a challenge when MPs return to Westminster in September.
However, writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg denied he had designs on her job.
“First of all, I unequivocally support Theresa May and do not covet her job. Second, if I did I would be a fool for only in Opposition do political parties choose leaders who have never held high ministerial office,” he said.
“Third, I neither am a candidate nor wish to be one. I want to be the servant of the Conservative Party, not its master.
“Nor is this some clever plan to seek other office; if it were it would have been scotched some weeks ago when it was suggested to the PM, who giggled in response rather more than my mother considered tactful.”
Mr Rees-Mogg nevertheless sharply criticised the Conservative campaign in last June’s general election – which saw Mrs May’s Commons majority wiped – saying it was out was “too managerial and lacked inspiration”.
He also urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to prioritise tax cuts when he delivered the Budget in the autumn.
“In addition to low taxation being right in terms of ownership, it is also better economically,” he wrote.
“The recent cuts in corporation tax, one of George Osborne’s most successful policies, has more than doubled the tax received by the Government.
“This example ought to be applied to income tax and, as a matter of urgency, to stamp duty.”