Theresa May does not look like she is having fun being Prime Minister and does it “because it’s her duty”, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.
But the backbench Brexiteer, who has been touted as a potential leadership candidate, backed Mrs May and stressed it would be “very difficult” for him as a father of six children to do the top job.
He did criticise the “gloomy” vision of a “nasty” future set out by the Tories at the botched snap election the PM called last year, and stressed the party must be doing more to articulate a vision as Jeremy Corbyn has for Labour.
But he distanced himself from suggestions he wants to be prime minister.
“If you look at Mrs May, it seems to be quite clear she does it because it’s her duty to do it, I don’t get the impression that it’s a lot of fun for her – it’s hard work.
“I’ve got six children, it would be very, very difficult as a family man so want is not the right word, I’m very happy as a backbencher and what I do want is Mrs May to stay Prime Minister.”
Mr Rees-Mogg criticised the Tories’ election campaign, which last June left the party without a House of Commons majority.
“We should have a more optimistic vision, what we had to say at the last election was so gloomy,” he said.
“It was that we will manage things better than the other side will, but it is going to be really nasty, we’re going to make you sell your house if you’re elderly and if you’re young we’re not going to talk to you at all.
“That doesn’t work, it was a bad idea.
“Where I think Jeremy Corbyn is doing well is in showing a vision for what he believes in and I think Conservatives have to do this.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also praised the “bravery” of I’m A Celebrity winner Georgia “Toff” Toffolo for publicly backing the Tories, and said it was important for the party to show it has young and famous supporters.
“It’s very important the Conservative Party can show that it’s got followers from a variety of areas,” the MP said.
“We broadly expect that retired field marshals will be Conservative but we need to show that young people, celebrities, people that can win I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, also have a connection with the Conservative Party, that they see why it’s attractive.
“And I think her role is important in showing that there are some young Conservative as well and she’s brave in putting her head above the parapet because very few celebrities are willing to say they are Conservative.”
Responding to Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments, Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “I think the Prime Minister enjoys her job enormously and views it as a great privilege.”