I speak to Jacob Rees-Mogg down a crackling phone line. Despite the poor-quality of the sound, his voice is unmistakeable: those rounded Edwardian vowels; the careful, deliberate delivery of phrases which fall slightly at the end, like a gramophone needing an extra turn of the crank. It is as though some enterprising audio-logist had devised the perfectly reassuring voice and presented it, with great doses of warmth and humour, in this double-breasted package.
A figure of intrigue (and not a little amusement) in the political world since first standing for Parliament in the safe Labour seat of Central Fife in 1997, there is a side to Rees-Mogg which few in the Westminster bubble see: that of the successful financier. The investment company of which he is the chairman, Somerset Capital Management, was founded by Rees-Mogg, Dominic Johnson and Edward Robertson in 2007 and currently has $7.6-billion under management, with offices in London and Singapore. The three men were colleagues at Lloyd George Management in Hong Kong before leaving to found SCM. Robertson and Rees-Mogg had been responsible for building the company’s emerging-market products, the sector which forms the basis of SCM’s investments.
His career as an investor began early; indeed, one might say he was something of a prodigy. At the age when most boys are playing cricket or football, Rees-Mogg was playing the stock market. ‘I was left £50 when I was ten by a fairly distant cousin, which my father invested in GEC shares on my behalf,’ he says. ‘I became interested in the market and was given some more shares by my father, which is when I began looking to see how the shares were performing and learning how to read company reports, balance sheets and so on in order to gauge that.’