Jacob Rees-Mogg plays down Conservative leadership bid reports

image source, PA
image captionThe Sunday Times claims the backbencher is "sounding out" friends about a possible challenge

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has played down reports that he is considering a bid for party leadership.

The Sunday Times claims the backbencher is "sounding out" friends about possibly succeeding Theresa May.

But the North East Somerset MP told the BBC: "I think it's a reminder that it's August and people don't have pressing UK political news to write about.

"And therefore there's this jolly stuff about me, but I wouldn't put any money on it," he told Radio 4.

In The Mail on Sunday, academic Ted Malloch said: "I was at a lunch with Jacob very recently and he indicated he would like to be considered for the leadership when the time comes.

"He did not mean now, but at some point in the future."

Mr Rees-Mogg, 48, told the newspaper he had lunch with Prof Malloch, but denied suggesting he wanted to be leader.

However, the father-of-six declined to rule out making a challenge in the future.

Mr Rees-Mogg has become a popular social media star with more than 40,000 followers on Instagram and 29,000 likes on Facebook.

There are dozens of Facebook pages devoted to the MP, some with tens of thousands of likes - more than any cabinet minister, according to the Sunday Times.

"I think if I threw my hat in the ring, my hat would be thrown back at me pretty quickly," he is quoted as telling the paper.

He has previously told the BBC: "I am fully supporting Mrs May."

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