Jacob Rees-Mogg's Defence Of Boris Johnson Over Partygate Leaves Interviewer 'Way Beyond Cross'

Changing the prime minister over the Covid breach “would be bad for the country and it would be bad for the world", the cabinet minister claimed.
Julia Hartley-Brewer locked horns with Jacob Rees-Mogg over Boris Johnson's premiership on Wednesday
Julia Hartley-Brewer locked horns with Jacob Rees-Mogg over Boris Johnson's premiership on Wednesday

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s bewildering defence of Boris Johnson over partygate left TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer “way beyond cross” on Wednesday.

Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister who previously described partygate as “fluff”, demonstrated his loyalty to the prime minister once again by claiming it would be “bad for the world” if Johnson was ousted from office.

His remarks came after the prime minister, and the chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined £50 for attending a party in lockdown – raising questions about whether they should remain in office.

Johnson and Sunak have both apologised, but said they will not be stepping down as they “want to be able to get on” with the job at hand, as subsequent supporters claim Downing Street needs to focus on the war in Ukraine instead.

Zeroing in on this curious strategy, Hartley-Brewer asked if it was therefore “unwise” for the French to hold their ongoing presidential election, for the US to have their own presidential election during Covid.

″Should we suspend our standards because there’s a war on?”

Rees-Mogg replied: “You want a worse leader of this country because you’re cross, and didn’t follow your policy on Covid. That’s what it boils down to.”

He added: “Because now there’s something that has come out that says, ‘he made a mistake’, you’re saying, ‘he’s an absolutely disgrace’.”

She denied this, and pointed out: “He [Johnson] deliberately flouted laws that he had brought in for everyone else – that’s not a mistake.”

“That’s an extraordinary overstatement,” Rees-Mogg replied. “You are simply exaggerating the situation.”

The presenter continued to question his use of the word “mistake” and asked if the prime minister had simply “stumbled into six different parties”.

Rees-Mogg ignored this, and claimed Johnson has “a proved track record of getting the big decisions right, and you, because you’re cross, want somebody worse”.

Hartley-Brewer said: ”I’m way beyond cross, Jacob.”

Getting rid of Johnson “would be bad for the country and it would be bad for the world,” the Tory MP continued, “because then we would not have the global leadership that we need.”

The presenter replied: “That’s an extraordinary lack of faith in your fellow cabinet and your fellow Tory MPs that you think there is nobody in your entire selection of MPs who could be up for Tory leadership and be prime minister of this country right now who isn’t a proven liar and hypocrite.

“You’re saying that if we don’t have Boris Johnson, there’s not a single person in the cabinet who would lead on Ukraine.”

Rees-Mogg then focused in on Hartley-Brewer’s description of a “proven liar and hypocrite”, saying this was “simply wrong” as “a difference of opinion is not a lie”.

“He perfectly reasonably thought the events on his birthday were not a party – he was there with people he was with all day,” the minister said. “You owe it to your listeners to use language moderately.”

He also said the cost of living crisis was the issue of the day, by which Johnson will be judged, rather than partygate.

Hartley-Brewer then asked if Johnson would still have Rees-Mogg’s support if he gets fined over the other events he went to, to which he replied: “The prime minister is an exceptional leader, it is rare in the history of this country that we have a truly exceptional prime minister – and we have got one and he is worth supporting.”

“Boris Johnson is in the national interest,” he added.

During the interview, the minister also took aim at the Covid rules in place at the time of the prime minister’s breach in June 2020 – laws made by No.10 itself – and said he still thinks that “it’s not right” people weren’t able to say goodbye to relatives who were dying.

Hartley-Brewer replied by pointing out that the minister had not exactly expressed these thoughts at the time, to which Rees-Mogg admitted he did not say this publicly then.

The fiery interview followed Rees-Mogg’s tweet in support of the prime minister from Tuesday night, where he said: “This ought to close this matter. There is a war on and the prime minister, supported by the chancellor, provides the leadership the nation needs.”

This prompted a flurry of furious tweets, as people replied pointing out that actually, the UK is not at war – Ukraine is.


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