Jacob’s nanny bites back! After defending her Rees-Mogg brood from class-war yobs, she declares he’d be an excellent PM – and reveals she kept him in line with the threat of a wooden spoon
- Veronica Crook weighs in on Brexit, Boris Johnson becoming PM and Corbyn
- The 76-year-old looked after Jacob as a boy after being employed by his father
- This week she confronted class-war protesters who ambushed the Rees-Moggs
- Miss Crook is celebrating her 53rd year working for the Rees-Mogg family
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s formidable nanny today breaks her silence on facing down class-war warriors – and reveals her secret to keeping the Tory MP in line as a boy.
In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Veronica Crook also lifts the lid on what she thinks of Brexit, the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister – and why Jeremy Corbyn is unfit for Downing Street.
The sight of Miss Crook, 76, rushing to confront a group of class-war protesters as they ambushed the Rees-Mogg family outside their Central London home was one of the images of the week.
Close bond: Veronica Crook (pictured with Jacob aged four) has worked for the Rees-Mogg family for 53 years as their nanny
She was seen advancing in full sail to throw a protective arm around the Tory MP’s children as she saw off anarchist leader Ian Bone. The protester was filmed spitefully telling the youngsters that their father was a ‘horrible person’ and he also alleged that the Rees-Moggs were ‘exploiting’ Miss Crook.
The claim brings a smile to the face of Miss Crook, who this week celebrates her 53rd year working for the family.
She was first employed by the late newspaper editor William Rees-Mogg – Jacob’s father – to look after his children.
Miss Crook, 76, was first employed by the late newspaper editor William Rees-Mogg – Jacob’s father – to look after his children
To mark what Jacob calls her ‘nanny-versary’ and to show their gratitude for her years of service, the Rees-Moggs are treating her to dinner at The Ritz.
Miss Crook jokes that the venue alone gives lie to ‘ridiculous’ suggestions that her employers exploit her. ‘That is such nonsense,’ she says. ‘In terms of pay and conditions, I am very satisfied.’
The anarchists’ decision to confront the Rees-Mogg family outside their home brought condemnation from across the political divide last week.
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Miss Crook laments a coarsening of political debate, saying: ‘It’s much more intrusive than when I first worked for the family.’ But given that MP Jacob often takes his children canvassing, didn’t he to some extent bring it on himself? ‘No,’ replies Nanny firmly.
‘Jacob does take his children to political things but this wasn’t a political event. It was outside the family’s front door and that is completely different.
‘If this had been some formal political function, they could have said it was a matter of free speech and so on, but it wasn’t.’
Investment manager Mr Rees-Mogg and his heiress wife Helena have denied reports that they are sitting on a fortune of around £150 million.
But doesn’t his undoubted wealth preclude the Old Etonian from understanding and relating to ordinary families?
‘That is just so unfair,’ she says. ‘Jacob likes talking to people from all walks of life and he’s interested in their lives.’
And to prove that, she points out that during the Brexit debate, Mr Rees-Mogg has repeatedly stressed the advantages for working families of cheaper clothes, shoes and food once the UK is finally free of Brussels’ grasp.
Stalwart who has cared for family for more than 50 years
Veronica Crook has worked for Jacob Rees-Mogg’s family since before he was born.
The nanny, described by the Tory MP as a ‘remarkable woman’ who made him the man he is today, was originally hired in 1965 by journalist William Rees-Mogg and his wife Gillian to look after their children.
Since then, Miss Crook, who is descended from Samuel Crook, the rector who baptised English philosopher John Locke, has been ever-present for the Rees-Moggs.
Nanny does not have her own children – prompting Jacob to say ‘we are her family’.
He has also likened her to Mary Poppins, saying she has ‘a bag filled with almost everything that can be needed’.
Miss Crook has worked for Mr Rees-Mogg and his wife Helena for the past 11 years, with the MP declaring how ‘absolutely wonderful’ it is that she is still caring for his offspring.
‘I hear her telling them things she used to tell me,’ he said.
‘She reminds them of the post-war rationing.
So if they have great dollops of butter on their toast, she says that would have been a week’s ration. I love that, the historic continuity you get.’
He added: ‘My children never tire of hearing about the bully who stole Nanny’s sandwiches at school.
The next day, her mother sent her in with mustard ones and he never bothered her again.’
But even Nanny once behaved in a ‘childlike way’, he said.
‘When Veronica did not win the prize at Sunday school, despite the best attendance record, she joined the sober Methodists.
‘Naturally, this did not last as nannies do like the occasional tincture of sherry.’
In fact her views on this issue are so clear and trenchant that it’s possible that Nanny is the source of Mr Rees-Mogg’s ardent Euroscepticism.
‘What do I think about Brexit? ‘Out! Out! Out! is what I think,’ she declares.
Miss Crook has told this newspaper that the man whose nappies she used to change as a child would make ‘an excellent Prime Minister’. Such is her belief in Mr Rees-Mogg she even accompanied him on the campaign trial on his doomed attempt in 1997 to win the rock-solid Labour seat of Central Fife – 13 years before he finally entered the Commons via the more Tory-friendly climes of North-East Somerset. But it’s clear that she also holds in high esteem that other shining star of the Brexit wing of the party, despite a recent wave of revelations about his private life.
Asked what she thinks of the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister, Miss Crook replies: ‘I like him. I found him very charming when Jacob invited him here.’
Not surprisingly, her political fan club does not extend to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. ‘I’m not keen on him,’ she says. ‘I don’t like all that anti-Semitism stuff.’
Just as she nurtured Mr Rees-Mogg and his siblings, Miss Crook now looks after the MP’s own ever-expanding brood of five sons and one daughter, with all the attendant challenges of parenting and modern life such as computers and iPads.
With the arrival of the latest Rees-Mogg, one-year-old Sixtus, demonstrating his lung power in the background, she muses: ‘The children don’t have their own iPads but they are allowed to use other people’s.’ Nanny Crook diplomatically fights shy of comparing the father to his offspring.
But she reveals that Mr Rees-Mogg will be on shaky ground if he ever lectures his children on healthy eating. Asked if Mr Rees-Mogg ate his greens as a child, she replies: ‘No!’
Not that it did him any harm, in her view, in moulding him into the man he has become.
Asked what moral values she instilled in Mr Rees-Mogg, she pauses before saying: ‘Honesty, kindness and thoughtfulness for other people.’
She also reveals that the young Jacob – who was famously pictured reading the Financial Times when he was just 12 – could be pretty ‘stubborn’ as a child.
So how did she keep him in check? ‘I never really had to punish him,’ she recalls.
‘The unused threat of the wooden spoon was quite enough.’
If only the Tory Party whips’ office were as civilised.
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