Jacob Rees-Mogg Trolls Rishi Sunak By Comparing Him To Theresa May

The Tory MP used a podcast to tell the prime minister where he was going wrong in his bid to reach a new Northern Ireland Brexit deal.
Theresa May and Rishi Sunak.
Theresa May and Rishi Sunak.

Jacob Rees-Mogg launched a thinly veiled swipe at Rishi Sunak today, likening his Brexit negotiations to Theresa May’s.

The Brexiteer used a podcast to tell the prime minister where he was going wrong in his bid to reach a new Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Sunak is having to contend with the demands of both Conservative MPs and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) over any agreement.

Some ministers could be prepared to resign if Sunak’s solution risks the place of Northern Ireland within the UK, according to The Times.

Rees-Mogg’s comments follow interventions from former PM Boris Johnson and home secretary Suella Braverman.

What Is The Northern Ireland Protocol?

It is a trading arrangement, negotiated during Brexit talks, to allow goods to be transported across the Irish land border without the need for checks.

The deal was aimed at protecting the delicate Good Friday Agreement and to avoid putting up a hard border between NI and the Republic.

However, unionist parties argue that the protocol instead places an effective border across the Irish Sea, undermining Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.

NI’s largest unionist party, the DUP, is refusing to take part in the power-sharing government unless its concerns are resolved.

There are hopes that a fresh deal over the Northern Ireland Protocol will secure the return of power-sharing at the Stormont Assembly, after the DUP walked out in protest at the protocol last February.

However, Rees-Mogg said Sunak should press ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol bill that effectively rips up parts of the post-Brexit agreement with Brussels, rather than seeking a deal which may not guarantee the return to power-sharing in Stormont.

On his ConservativeHome podcast, Rees-Mogg said: “There seems to me to be no point in agreeing a deal that does not restore power-sharing.

“That must be the objective. If it doesn’t achieve that objective, I don’t understand why the government is spending political capital on something that won’t ultimately succeed.”

He said the bill had the support of “the person who had a mandate from the British voters” – Boris Johnson – and questioned Sunak’s handling of the situation.

“I don’t know why so much political capital has been spent on something without getting the DUP and the ERG [European Research Group of Conservative MPs] onside first,” he said.

What Is The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill?

Legislation that would allow ministers to override part of the Brexit agreement that governs Northern Ireland.

Ministers have said it is necessary as the current arrangement — the Northern Ireland protocol — is not working.

But the EU has said any unilateral action by the UK would breach international law and warned it could retaliate with a trade war.

The legislation is currently stalled in the Lords.

He said it was “very similar to what happened with Theresa May” where a policy would be presented in the hope that people would “conveniently fall in behind”.

Rees-Mogg added: “So a story would appear in The Times and Downing Street would say ‘no, this isn’t quite right, it isn’t at all right’.

“Then a week or two would go by and it would turn out to be completely right and they would hope that people would just conveniently fall in behind the announced policy.

“Life doesn’t work like that. It’s important to get support for it first before you finalise the details and that doesn’t seem to have been done here.”

Earlier today one of Sunak’s ministers suggested he might not reach a new Northern Ireland Brexit deal this week.

Maria Caulfield urged Tory Brexiteers to give the prime minister “time and space” to “thrash out” a deal.


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