The precocious 12-year-old boy sitting in the back of a chauffeured Rolls-Royce set out his ambitions: make a fortune, remain a bachelor and become prime minister.
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s 1982 interview with a French television channel has re-emerged showing the leader of the House of Commons had achieved one of his childhood aims, failed another and has only 18 years left to complete the third.
The programme released by the archive of the French National Audiovisual Institute shows Rees-Mogg — wearing a tweed jacket, tie and a Love Maggie badge — planning his future.
When the pre-prep pupil at Westminster Under School was asked if he hoped to marry and have children, he insisted he was determined to remain single.
“I intend to stay a bachelor because I don’t want to get divorced and have the wife taking all my money, and that seems to be happening so often nowadays that I won’t take the risk,” he replied.
That has failed spectacularly as he married Helena de Chair in 2007 and the couple have six children: Peter Theodore Alphege, Mary Anne Charlotte Emma, Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan, Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam, Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius and Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher.
Rees-Mogg accepted yesterday that at least one of his predictions was awry.
“I remember the interview and fear that, six children later, it has blown my chances of being a credible 21st century Nostradamus,” he said.
“Otherwise my only defence is that when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
In reply to the French interviewer’s questions about his other ambitions the young Rees-Mogg had replied: “When I am 30, I would like to be the managing director of GEC and hopefully by the time I am 70, when I am 70, I’d love to become prime minister.
“At that age you can have made all your millions or billions and you will have got plenty of money and time to spend on politics.”
The schoolboy boasted of having two accounts with Barclays and Lloyds, one each at National Westminster, Midland and the Post Office and a further account at Harrods.
“I love money, always have done,” he told the interviewer. “Why, because you need money and with money you can make more money. And if you’ve got money, you can buy things, buy things that you want, I could buy this Rolls-Royce, something like that, lovely.”
The aspiring entrepreneur was interviewed by the French channel having already come to prominence with an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme following his attendance at the annual general meeting of the General Electric Company. It emerged in 2018 that he had written to the broadcaster demanding his £18 appearance fee.
Rees-Mogg said he had become interested in share dealing five years earlier after inheriting £50 from a distant cousin which his father had invested in GEC. His father, William Rees-Mogg, a former editor of The Times, had later bought him more shares for his birthday.
His plans to become the head of GEC remained unfulfilled as the company became defunct in 1999. Instead, he made a fortune as a founder of Somerset Capital Management.
When asked about his badge on his tweed jacket Rees-Mogg told the French interviewer: “Margaret Thatcher is the best prime minister this century and she is getting Britain out of the recession, she is cutting [the] public sector borrowing requirement, she is reducing inflation, she is reducing unemployment.”
Rees-Mogg, now 52, became president of the Oxford University Conservative Association and he was elected MP for North East Somerset in 2010.
Despite a social media campaign called Moggmentum championing him as a successor to Theresa May he endorsed Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest and was rewarded with appointment as leader of the House of Commons.
Playing down his personal prime ministerial ambitions yesterday, Rees-Mogg said: “In 18 years I hope Boris will just be beginning the second half of his tenure.”
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