LBC’s Rachael Venables pressed the Brexit opportunities and government efficiency minister over what differences Brits might appreciate in their day-to-day lives outside of the EU, as the cost of living crisis tightens its grip.
In an interview conducted just after the sixth anniversary of the EU referendum, she pointed out: “There’s people out there in full-time work who have to go to food banks, have to count the pennies every month to pay for their soaring energy bills.
“Do you think they’re really going to care about whether or not a vacuum cleaner is a certain wattage or whether or not sparkling wine can be served in a plastic bottle?”
“You’re absolutely right,” Rees-Mogg replied. “People will be interested in some things are going to be done from July 1, so there was going to be an extra cost to fish fingers because of the way they’re imported – that’s a 2% increase that’s been avoided.
“There was going to be up to 70% increase in the cost of some cheeses coming in that we’ve avoided using our Brexit freedoms.
“So there are savings to be had.”
“Is that the best you can do, cheese and fish fingers?” Venables hit back.
Rees-Mogg said: “I’m just giving you an example of savings, but dare I say you’re slightly missing the point.
“The point is this is the aggregation of lots and lots of small savings.”
Discussing the advantages of being able to buy vacuum cleaners from South Korea – for example – he added: “Getting value for money means opening ourselves up to global markets.”
As part of the campaign group, the ERG, he pushed for a hard Brexit throughout Theresa May’s time in Downing Street.
When Boris Johnson was elected in 2019, Rees-Mogg was appointed to leader of the house of Commons, before receiving his current role earlier this year.
Venables also asked about the consequences of deregulation and how the “cutting of this red tape” could open consumers up to safety and health risks.
Rees-Mogg replied claiming these changes were actually about protecting the consumer and enabling consumers to exercise democratic accountability.
“Your viewers and listeners will be aware of where they think they ought to be protected and they will be able to directly contact their MPs,” he explained. “Because we are know in charge of our regulatory systems rather than it being delegated to a bureaucracy that can’t be changed by our own democratic efforts.”
Rees-Mogg released a new website this week which “counts down” until more than 2,000 EU laws are officially scrapped in the UK.
However, he admitted: “I accept that not everybody is going to have the time or inclination to do this but I think it helps show the scale [of EU laws in the UK].”
The minister also told the Commons that Brexit freedoms would help address the cost of living crisis and inflation, because “excessive” EU red tape is “pushing up prices”, particularly with food and drink.
He revealed this week that the government will not be producing any assessments about whether or not Brexit was actually a success.
Rees-Mogg described a report from the Resolution Foundation which declared that the UK economy had been damaged when it left the EU as a “regurgitation of Project Fear”.
Asked by HuffPost UK how voters are supposed to assess whether Brexit has been worth it, the minister said: “I’ve always thought it’s all about democracy. Can you change your government, can you make decisions about how you are governed?
“That is the big and overwhelming advantage of Brexit, and then you come to the debate as to whether democracy also makes you more prosperous and I think it does and there’s a great deal of evidence for that.”