The Brexit-supporting Tory backbencher, who is currently the bookmakers favourite to succeed Theresa May, attempted to ease speculation about his Downing Street ambitions by suggesting his “family man” status was a barrier to rising to the top of politics.
He also risked irritating Mrs May by claiming she did not give the impression she was enjoying her job.
Mr Mogg was questioned about his ambitions following a bout of speculation that Brexit-backing Tories are poised to trigger a leadership coup if the Prime Minister fails to deliver a decisive break with Brussels.
Answering questions from postgraduate journalism diploma students at the headquarters of the Press Association news agency in central London about whether he wanted the top job, the North East Somerset MP said: “I think want is very much the wrong word.”
“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 went on to criticise the Tories’ general election campaign last year, which 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.”
He contrasted the Tories’ approach to the election with that of hard-Left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“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,” the backbencher said.
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.”