Jacob Rees-Mogg dubbed Remainers as “cave dwellers” today as he warned Theresa May she will be ousted as PM if she compromises any further on Brexit.
The Conservative backbencher made the threat as he hit out at the Government for giving way on “every red line” during the transition period, agreed between the UK and EU in Brussels last week.
Rees-Mogg, chairman of the influential group of Tory Brexiteers known as the European Research Group, cited concessions over UK fishing rights and free movement of people during the 21 month period as examples of where May had given in to Brussels.
In a speech to mark one year until the UK officially leaves the EU, Rees-Mogg claimed those wanting to stop Brexit would damage the UK’s collective psyche in a way not seen since the Suez crisis of 1956.
Speaking in Central London, Rees-Mogg said: I know that I am sometimes teased for being the ‘Honourable Member for the 18th Century’, but it is a badge I wear with pride because it was in the 18th Century that the seeds of our greatness, sown long before in our distinguished history, sown conceivably by Alfred the Great, began to grow and to flourish in a way that led to our extended period of good fortune and greatness.
“But in spite of this admiration and, indeed, love for our Nation’s history, today I want to be, and this may be an effort for me, the Honourable Member for the 21st Century – a century that will see our country regain its independence and stride out once more, into a new age of global trade and cooperation.
“It has taken us some time to rediscover the opportunities of a truly global Britain and a few cave dwellers still want to stop the process, but with 367 days to go the United Kingdom will be free.”
When asked about the transition deal, Rees-Mogg said: “Let’s be frank about it, all the red lines have gone in the transition period. There isn’t a red line left in that, and the concern is will the red lines be there in the final withdrawal agreement.
“I’m sure the Prime Minister knows her history, and I’m sure that she knows how Robert Peel got the repeal of the Corn Laws through. No Conservative leader would ever wish to get through so major a piece of legislation again on the back of opposition votes, and I think the Government will stick its red lines because that is the political reality.”
Peel quit as Conservative Prime Minister in 1846 after forcing through repeal of the protectionist Corn Laws in the face of opposition from many in his own party.
Rees-Mogg was asked if he would “commit to standing for the Tory leadership” in order to ensure the UK left the EU’s customs union, common fisheries policy and jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice after Brexit.
He replied: “No, I won’t make any such commitment, I’m fully supporting Mrs May. I’m sure she won’t break our red lines.”
Eloise Todd from anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain accused Rees-Mogg of not taking the issue seriously enough.
She said: “Jacob Rees-Mogg calling anyone a ‘cave dweller’ shows what a joke all of this is to those political elites egging on Brexit.
“Jacob should be take a far more serious approach to the very serious concerns people have about the damage caused by Brexit. Why shouldn’t people be angry at the prospect of higher food prices, fewer jobs and spending being diverted from hospitals and schools to fund Brexit departments?
“The good news is we still have a year to figure out whether all of this pain is really worth it.”