Iain Duncan Smith says people need to be more tolerant of anti-gay marriage views
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has defended Tory right-winger Jacob Rees-Mogg’s anti-gay marriage views, amid rumours of a leadership challenge.
Mr Rees-Mogg, a backbench Tory MP, has been repeatedly touted as a potential challenger to unseat Prime Minister Theresa May in a bid to shift the part rightwards.
The Conservative MP, who has voted strongly against gay rights and equal marriage, stoked anger from Conservative modernisers this week by confirming he still opposes same-sex marriage.
In an interview Mr Rees-Mogg refused to say if he thinks gay sex is a sin, but said: “I’m a Catholic, I take the teaching of the Catholic church seriously. Marriage is a sacrament and the view of what marriage is taken by the Church, not Parliament.
“I support the teaching of the Catholic church. The marriage issue is the important thing, this is not how people arrange their lives.”
The MP also said he would oppose abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain this morning, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith defended his views.
He said: “Tolerance cuts both ways – these are personal views. You should in politics be able to express your personal views.
“Because these were always individual [conscience votes] it is quite acceptable to have those views, and you may not agree with them, but tolerance goes in both directions.”
He added: “These things are all personal things and opinions and they have to be because they’re about belief and everything else.
“I don’t [share his views]. I voted for gay marriage… I am a strong supporter of stability and family life. I think if people want to have that final point, I took a general balanced view, and I argued that I thought it was the right thing to do.
“I don’t agree with him but it is a personal view, and all these votes are on a personal basis.”
The next Prime Minister may be responsible for resolving the crisis in Northern Ireland, which could include deciding whether to support equal marriage in the region in absence of a power-sharing deal.
Asked he believed Mogg was ineligible to be leader, IDS said: “That’s not at the end of the day for me. That’s for the party to decide for themselves.
“If the party doesn’t agree with his sentiments, that may well be a tipping factor.
“By the way, Jacob has already made it clear that he’s absolutely not interested in being leader.
“My general sense is this is an area where people have personal views. Faith is an issue, people interpret that in their own ways.
“There were robust debates in Parliament about this and will go on being robust debates. The public is also divided on this, but you have to follow your conscience.”
Labour MP Chuka Umunna said: “In this day and age, in modern Britain, doesn’t it sound a bit out of touch and disconnected from modern Britain?”
“I don’t think [there’s a conflict between faith and being a leader], but I don’t think you can entirely disconnect the two.
“The most recent example has been Tim Farron, now the former leader of the Liberal Democrats. He found it too much of a conflict.
“There’s a slight irony to this, as in the US they wear their faith on their sleeve but constitutionally, they’re meant to be entirely separate.
“I don’t think anyone would criticise Jacob for expressing a view, but if he’s being talked about as a future leader of the Conservative Party, people need to know what his views are.
“I have to say, I find him really disagreeable and out of touch with what modern Britain is.”
Under Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership the Conservatives whipped MPs to vote against LGBT rights. In 2014 the former leader voted for equal marriage.
Yesterday the LGBT+ Conservatives group attacked Mr Rees-Mogg.
The LGBT+ Conservatives tweeted: “Views of Jacob Rees Mogg on GMB out of step w/modern Conservatives. In language he understands: tu es dedecorus.”
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The Latin phrase translates as “You are a disgrace”.
The group also retweeted a post from activist Jack Monroe, which said: “RT if you’re against Jacob Rees Mogg as Prime Minister in any circumstances”.
PinkNews revealed in 2015 that Rees-Mogg has criticised Prime Minister David Cameron during a Conservative conference call, accusing him of “alienating” people over same-sex marriage.
Mr Rees-Mogg is a long-standing opponent of same-sex marriage, saying in 2013 that he will choose to be “whipped” by the Catholic Church rather than by his party.
“If this is a strategy the Conservatives won’t get any credit for it and it distressed many of our activists.”
“I think there is damage being done, some activists are leaving, some are considering joining UKIP in protest, and it’s the people who are the backbone of local associations who do the work who are the most put out by it.”