'I'm not a candidate': Jacob Rees-Mogg insists he won't become next Tory leader
Colourful backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has insisted he is not a candidate for Theresa May's job despite topping a poll of Conservative supporters who named him the favourite to be next party leader.
Some 23% of ConservativeHome readers backed the Tory, often known as "the MP for the 18th century" over his old-fashioned ways, to replace Mrs May.
Brexit Secretary David Davis was supported by 15% of those who voted, 7% went to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and 19% ticked the "other" box in the 1,309-strong survey.
Asked if he would put himself forward for party leader, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "I know about Jim Hacker's answer from Yes, Minister just before he became Prime Minister.
"It was that 'I have no ambitions in that direction, but if my friends and colleagues advise me that in some humble capacity I can serve my country...' and, of course, that meant 'yes'.
"Let me be absolutely clear: I'm not a candidate. There is not a vacancy. I fully support Theresa May and want her to continue.
"And I'm a backbench MP.
"In the whole history of the Prime Ministership, the party in office has never felt so desperate that it has dragged somebody from the obscurity of the backbenches to thrust them into the highest office.
"So the answer to your question is that it is simply not something that is going to happen."
The MP joked that as a Catholic male he is eligible to become Pope, and that if the holy ghost called upon him to do so "I will do my duty".
Mr Rees-Mogg has enjoyed a growing media profile in recent months and has been touted as a right-wing antidote to the increasing popularity of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The "young fogey" emerged as second favourite in a ConservativeHome survey in August after supporters wrote him into the "other" candidate section.
The Prime Minister last week insisted she is "not a quitter" and vowed to lead the Conservatives into the next general election.
But the decision sparked warnings that she would fuel moves to oust her before 2022.
When asked if he believes the PM will fight the next election, Damian Green, Mrs May's de facto deputy, replied: "Yes."
In an interview with the Politico website, he said: "Theresa is doing what is a very difficult job extremely well, and I would like to see her continue to do this for many years."
International Trade minister Greg Hands said there was "all to play for", including the Tory leadership, between Brexit and the general election.
He told the Herald: "A lot can happen in five years, and we'll see what the situation is in 2022. But at the moment I've got complete confidence in the Prime Minister."