Jacob Rees Mogg has called abortions after rape a “second wrong” in a heated exchange with the BBC’s Emma Barnett.
The Catholic Tory MP, who was the subject of an unlikely Conservative leadership campaign during the summer, reiterated his strict anti-abortion stance, saying he would also support reducing the limit on abortions by “as many weeks as possible”.
As Barnett grilled him on 5 Live in the week of the Abortion Act’s 50th anniversary, Rees Mogg said: “A great wrong has been created at the point of a rape. The question is – does a second wrong make it any better?”
He also labelled Bank of England Governor Mark Carney an “enemy of Brexit” and attacked the BBC’s coverage of the issue.
The 1967 Abortion Act came into effect 50 years ago on Friday and the anniversary has emboldened the debate over whether the law should be relaxed or tightened.
Barnett said the humorous persona Rees Mogg cultivated, mainly through social media like Instagram, was at odds with his views.
“In between those jokes there are some serious views people find frightening,” she said.
Barnett repeatedly asked Rees Mogg how many weeks he would want the abortion limit reduced by, pointing out Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he would favour cutting it from 24 weeks to 12.
Rees Mogg was initially reluctant to give a figure, saying it was hypothetical given there was no proposal before parliament.
“It is important to look at the number of weeks because to abort babies beyond the number of weeks at which they could live outside the womb seems to me extremely difficult to defend,” he said.
But Barnett pushed Rees Mogg on it, telling him there could be a bill if Cabinet ministers supported a reduction.
Eventually Rees Mogg said: “I would be in favour of the numbers of weeks being reduced, of course I would.”
When asked, again, how many, he said: “By as many weeks as possible.”
He added: “I’m against abortion. Full stop. I would support reducing the number of weeks… Life either begins at the point of concept or moment of birth to fix a number of weeks is essentially arbitrary.”
He reiterated: “But I would support a reduction.”
The staunch Brexiteer also attacked the BBC and the Bank Of England governer for what he deemed pessimistic reporting and forecasting on Brexit.
“It’s the constant refrain of the BBC – in spite of Brexit there’s some good news, because of Brexit there’s some bad news,” he said of the broadcaster, adding its initials should stand for “Brexit Bashing” rather than “British Broadcasting”.
He added: “Mark Carney is one of the enemies of Brexit, he has attacked it consistently. He’s been consistently wrong.”
Rees Mogg has previously had awkward interviews about his stance on abortion including in September when he said he opposed abortion after rape during an appearance on Good Morning Britain.
Then he was pressed by Piers Morgan: “Say you were prime minister: If a woman is raped by a family member, you would say she had no right to have that baby aborted?”
Rees-Mogg answered: “She would have a right under UK law. That law is not going to change but my personal opinion is life begins at the point of conception.”
He also defended his vote against gay marriage in 2013, saying: “I’m a Catholic and I take the teaching of the Catholic Church seriously.”