The European Research Group (ERG) chair indicated that Mr Johnson could “unite” the Conservative Party after Brexit is delivered. The ERG chair leads a cohort of 80 Tory MPs who could play a pivotal role in deciding who takes over the leadership of the Conservative Party once Theresa May departs. The MP for North East Somerset insisted that on domestic issues, Mr Johnson is “very much in the middle” and could well tie in the opposing wings of the Conservative party.
Mr Rees-Mogg also expressed his approval for a duo of Mr Johnson and Amber Rudd as he commented on the latter’s “first-class capabilities”.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think very highly of Boris Johnson, who managed to win in London twice in a Labour area, has a great connection with voters, is a clear Eurosceptic but otherwise is very much in the middle of the Conservative party.
“He’s not particularly a factional character beyond the European issue and therefore I think could unite the party and win elections but we are lucky, we have many other good candidates as well.”
“I think it is now legitimate to be discussing the various abilities of the various potential candidates.”
Speculation has increased recently after Mrs May indicated that she would leave her office early if she could get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
Moreover, due to the difficulties she has faced in trying to find common ground with Jeremy Corbyn, there have been increased calls for her to step aside as soon as possible.
Mr Rees-Mogg has ruled himself out of running for the Tory leadership but did praise the current Work and Pensions Secretary.
He said: “I’ve always thought highly of Amber Rudd and she is a very long-standing friend of my sister’s as it happens and a person of first-class capabilities.
“I happen to disagree with her on the European issue and there will come a time, although we may find it difficult to believe at the moment, when there are other things to talk about than Europe and at that point we will need all the talents that are arrayed within the Tory party and not just those of Brexiteers.”
With the pressure continuing to mount on Mrs May, the Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom also alluded to her own potential leadership bid.
She told the BBC that she “will be thinking about that when the time comes”.
For now, however, she remains keen to held Mrs May get her current deal through Parliament.