INTERVIEW: Jacob Rees-Mogg on Boris, Brexit and Britain


Jacob Rees-Mogg has told how he is convinced Liz Truss can be trusted to deliver on Brexit if she wins the race to Number 10. 

In an exclusive interview with GB News today, Mr Rees-Mogg praised the Foreign Secretary, a former staunch remainer, for the way she’s  accepted she got it wrong over leaving the European Union.

Speaking to Esther McVey and Philip Davies in an interview screened today (Saturday), he said:

“How often do you ever hear a politician say, I got that wrong? And admit it and say, look, I got it wrong, and I’m going to do better. I think that’s brilliant. It’s very refreshing. And she’s enthusiastic about Brexit – and that’s terrific.  Because if we’re to get the benefits of Brexit, we need enthusiasm.

“There are quite a lot who say that and don’t really mean it. But I found in the Government that Liz, other than the Prime Minister himself, was my greatest supporter for getting Brexit opportunities in the cabinet committee that she chaired, when other people who are now saying we should grasp the opportunities of Brexit, were opposing them.”

On the question of where Johnson had been a success as PM he said: “I think his government has been extremely successful, even in the areas where I have been slightly more cautious. Brexit was delivered, and from the starting point he had with the deal that was on the table beforehand, that was really a brilliant success.

“During the pandemic, it may not surprise you today, indeed, we may even have discussed it at the time, I was very much in favour of a more liberal approach and allowing people to make decisions for themselves. Nonetheless, I think the PM got all the big choices, right and did what he almost had to do.

“He got the big decisions right and then at Christmas, he was the one who decided that we would not close down again. And that was proved to be the right decision because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland did close down with no better result than we had in England and all the advice was telling him not to from the experts but he made the bold decision, he thought the British people could be trusted to make decisions for themselves. And that had a huge benefit. Economically and societally.

“So he got that right and he got Ukraine right, which I think is one of the biggest foreign policy decisions of our lifetimes, possibly the biggest foreign policy decision since the Falklands. So really important things he’s got, right. The area where I think the government has not been so strong is on economic policy. But there’s somebody else that I would blame for that.”

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson was greeted by his son Wilfred and Jacob Ree-Mogg, one of his most loyal supports as he arrived back into No10 after delivering his statement in Downing Street after resigning as the leader of the Conservative Party. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

On his disputes with Truss’ opponent, Rishi Sunak, he said: “I thought the National Insurance increase was a mistake. I argued strongly against it. I think conventional Treasury thinking has been consistently wrong. So for 2021-22, the Treasury thought the deficit would be £106 billion  worse than it actually was.

“Tax revenues have come in ahead of expectations and some spending has been below. And we have had these increases in tax rates on the basis of wonky OBR forecasts. We then have this actually lunatic rise in corporation tax on the basis that hitting companies is free. Well, it isn’t. If you put up Corporation Tax, companies that invest in the UK require a net margin, they will not invest without being able to achieve that net margin. Or to achieve it, what do they do?

“They cap wage rises, or they increase prices. So you add to the inflationary problem. And there is this ridiculous idea in the treasury that hitting big companies is free, doesn’t hurt people.”

Revealing why he thinks Brexit led to Johnson’s demise he said: “I think part of the reason has to be Brexit. There’s a lot of people who resent the fact we left the European Union. And therefore to bring down the standard bearer of Brexit was a triumph for them. And you had people like Lord Heseltine and Lord Adonis, saying no, Boris, no Brexit. And I think they really thought that. And I very much hope it’s not true.” 

On the question of whether employing Dominic Cummings was a mistake he said: “Dominic Cummings had been a very important part of the referendum campaign. He seems to be good at understanding the mood of the British people and campaigning on it, and it seemed that his eccentricities were a price worth paying for his genius. In the end, it turned out that his eccentricity was absurd and self-serving and that he thought he was Prime Minister, and that was never going to work.”

On the question of whether the UK has yet reaped the rewards of Brexit, he said: “Not yet. No. We’ve got much more to do. We’ve got some benefits already and we saw that with the vaccine rollout, we’ve seen it with some minor tax changes, we’ve seen it with the tentative beginnings of freeports. But there is a lot more that we can do.

“Solvency too could unleash tens of billions of pounds a year for investment in the economy and is one of the biggest things we can do to boost the economy.

“There are other things we can do, we should get rid of all the tariffs on goods that we don’t produce, which would be a help, not the biggest help, but a help to people in a cost of living crisis. Then there’s the opportunity to take the 5% VAT off fuel, which we couldn’t possibly do whilst we were in the European Union, but would be a help to every household.

On his long running dispute with civil servants over WFH rules he said: “People need to be in the office and to do their jobs properly. Particularly if the job isn’t being done properly at the moment. I was talking to somebody who rang the passport helpline, and there was a child in the background and the person on the helpline had to go off to look after the child. And the person had been on hold to get through for ages and ages. This just isn’t good enough. That’s not the proper way. And the helpline is outsourced anyway, it’s not a proper way to deliver public services. And this week I went to the government office in Canary Wharf, really high class offices, very expensive. And I went onto a floor and I was told all the floors were the same.

“They have 400 desks on one floor and I’d be surprised if there were 40 people working there. And people said, ‘well, people are on leave’, well, they can’t all be on leave. It’s just not good enough. 

“And people need to be back at work. And all the service needs to be perfect. If there were no problems with DVLA, with the Passport Office, with the Probate Office, then you say okay, it’s fine. But these services are not delivering what the British public have a right to demand. And we are paying people as if they were going into work, they get their London allowance, and yet they are not going into the office and the service isn’t being delivered.

“I think this is really important. And the frustrating thing is although the Cabinet has decided this, permanent secretaries have decided this, the message is not getting through properly, except in some very specific areas.

“It has to come down to line managers getting their people in and recognising that that is their contractual obligation. And we need to stop accepting excuses. To begin with, it was the end of COVID restrictions, then it was Easter, then it was the Jubilee, then there was a rail strike, then it was hot. And nobody can do any work when it’s hot, apparently, for two days in a century, and we all have to stay at home. And now what’s the excuse now? Oh, no, it’s August, so no one can possibly – we’re becoming French…. We need to see people get back in the office.”

“Taxpayers have the right to expect every penny of their money to be justified before it’s spent” – Minister for Government Efficiency Jacob Rees-Mogg. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

When asked why he didn’t run for Number 10 Rees Mogg said he didn’t believe he was popular enough adding: “I thought that to get what I wanted to happen in government to get the delivery in Brexit, to get proper economic policy, people in my way of thinking needed to unite around a single candidate and that single candidate was Liz Truss.

“There are other people who I think very highly of.

“I’m a great admirer of Priti Patel, for instance. I think her efforts on immigration, which seem to be thwarted by what some people rather rudely call lefty lawyers, not a term I would of course dream of using, have done amazing work, but Priti didn’t have the momentum.

“I think highly of Nadeem Zahawi, who I think is, in the short time he has been in the Treasury, been trying to get to grips with it. But it seemed to me that Liz was much clearer in where she wanted to go and better positioned and was the one person who could get momentum to win for what I think I can fairly say the three of us broadly believe in.”

The Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg visits the port of Felixstowe. Felixstowe. Picture by Tim Hammond / No 10 Downing Street

On the chances of Boris ever returning as PM he said: “Nobody’s come back having lost the leadership of the party since Gladstone. And I just don’t think in modern politics, the chance of coming back is realistic. Lots of people think they’re going to be called back by a grateful nation which is why Harold MacMillan waited 20 years before accepting his peerage. Life just isn’t like that.”

Rees Mogg also hit out at the ongoing Privileges Committee investigation into Johnson saying: “I think it’s quite extraordinary that Harriet Harman, who I think is a very distinguished political figure has not recused herself from it, after the tweets that she put out, accusing the Prime Minister of lying.

“I do not believe you can have a fair judgment, when the chairman of the committee has already judged the matter. And I think she should stand down. I’m astonished that she accepted it, because she is, if I may put it this way, a good socialist. Oh, she’s a very respectable individual. She’s admired across parties. And I think she’s doing genuine damage to her reputation by putting herself in this position.

On whether we are likely to see a snap General Election called after the new Prime Minister is announced he said: “It’s one of those decisions that is very much a personal one for any Prime Minister. I don’t think it’s one where Prime Ministers expect to get advice any more.”

And on the growing interest of his daughter Mary, 14, Rees-Mogg, who has six children, said: “My daughter is getting increasingly interested in politics. She came with me earlier this week to Bristol where I was doing one of the events for Liz Truss, we were debating against Mark Harper.

“And Mary came along and found it absolutely fascinating so there may be some competition in the Rees-Mogg household for who is going to be the political figure after me.”

Source: GB News

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  1. I have great respect for Jacob and value his comments He has confirmed alot of my thoughts Thank you for this great article on his views


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