Jacob Rees-Mogg Suggests UK 'Be As Difficult As Possible' During Brexit Delay

He said UK should disrupt EU's plans while it is still a member of the bloc.
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Arch Tory eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg has been mocked for suggesting Britain could use its power as an EU member to disrupt the bloc during a long Brexit delay.

The leader of the backbench European Research Group (ERG) suggested vetoing increases in the Brussels budget, obstructing the creation of an “EU army” and blocking French president Emmanuel Macron’s drive for more integration.

But he was immediately criticised by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon for highlighting the power the UK has as an EU member while advocating to leave.

It came after Theresa May wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk requesting another delay to June 30, with the option of leaving the EU earlier if she can get a Brexit deal through the Commons.

The EU is unlikely to accept a shorter delay and reports suggest Tusk will recommend a one-year extension, with a break clause should a deal be agreed by MPs, when leaders meet for a crunch summit on Wednesday.

Rees-Mogg suggested the UK could use a long delay to disrupt the EU.

It is an idea that has been circulating around Brexiteer factions in parliament for weeks, as a means of extracting more Brexit concessions from Brussels.

The Tory MP tweeted: “If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible. We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.”

But Sturgeon immediately hit back: “How strange – isn’t this the same guy who said the UK had no power to do any of these things in the EU and that’s why we had to leave.”

May has invited Jeremy Corbyn and Labour into the corridors of power in Whitehall for talks on how to put together a compromise withdrawal deal that can get through the Commons.

The PM has failed three times to pass her agreement, which Labour has opposed.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that negotiations are “making progress”, and both sides were hoping for “a creative solution” – which could include another referendum.

He added: “One of the solutions to break a parliamentary impasse is to ask the people to run their slide rule over Theresa May’s deal.

“They can work out for themselves whether this deal works for them and their families.”

The question whether voters should be offered a “confirmatory” referendum on any compromise deal emerging from talks is hotly disputed in Westminster.

The Daily Telegraph reported that ministers have considered the possibility of giving MPs a vote on holding a referendum on a deal if that is needed to seal agreement with Labour.

It is understood the government could set out proposals to Corbyn in a letter on Friday.

Among other things, Labour is pushing for a permanent customs union to be included in the deal.

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