Colourful Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has revealed he is opposed to abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest.
Mr Rees-Mogg, often dubbed “the MP for the 18th Century” over his old fashioned ways, also signalled his opposition to same-sex marriage.
The Catholic MP for North East Somerset, who has been tipped as a candidate for taking over Theresa May’s job as Tory leader and even prime minister, said abortion was “morally indefensible”.
On Tuesday he topped a poll of ConservativeHome readers on who should succeed Mrs May as party leader but insisted he is not a candidate.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who has enjoyed a greater media profile since being touted for the leadership, was quizzed on his views on abortion on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
He told the programme: “I’m completely opposed to abortion. Life begins at the point of conception.”
He added: “With same-sex marriage that is something that people are doing for themselves, with abortion it is something that is done to the unborn child.”
Asked if he was opposed to abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest, he said: “Yes I am. I’m afraid so. Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception and I think it is wrong.”
Questioned on whether this meant a woman who was raped had no right to an abortion he said: “No, she would have a right under UK law. But that law is not going to change.
“My personal opinion is that life begins at the point of conception and abortion is morally indefensible.
“I wouldn’t (stop her having an abortion) because that wouldn’t be the law of the land.”
On same-sex marriage, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I’m a Catholic and I take the teaching of the Catholic church seriously in matters of faith and morals.
“Marriage is a sacrament and the decision of what is a sacrament lies with the church not with Parliament.”
He added: “The teaching of the Catholic church is completely clear.
“I don’t want to criticise people who lead lives that are different to mine but equally I don’t want to divert from the historic teaching of the Catholic church.”
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) said Mr Rees-Mogg’s “extreme” views are “wildly at odds” with public opinion and highlighted the decriminalisation earlier this year of abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and MPs’ support for extending abortion access for women resident in Northern Ireland.
Katherine O’Brien, head of policy research at bpas, said: “We are a pro-choice country, we have a pro-choice Parliament. Rees-Mogg’s stance on abortion is quite simply extreme, and extremely out-of-touch.
“Every politician is entitled to hold their own opinion on abortion. But what matters is whether they would let their own personal convictions stand in the way of women’s ability to act on their own.”
A spokesman for abortion provider Marie Stopes International said: “Mr Rees-Mogg is entitled to his opinion. It does nothing to change the fact that women in the UK have benefited from access to safe and legal abortion for 50 years, and will continue to do so.
“Restricting access to abortion only makes it more likely that women will risk their health and their lives through dangerous backstreet procedures.”