He gave the Daily Mail the exclusive the paper had craved in its unwavering support for Theresa May and her albatross-like Brexit deal: Jacob Rees Mogg was going to hold his nose and back his Prime Minister when the deal came back for yet another vote. The only problem for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker is that Rees Mogg had given himself a get-out clause that he knew meant his gesture was meaningless.
“MOGG: SORRY, I WILL BACK MAY’S DEAL … Key Brexiteer changes his mind in dramatic Mail article … As Boris hints he’ll switch too, PM’s on verge of breakthrough” announced the headline triumphantly. There was more. “JACOB Rees Mogg today urges hardline Eurosceptics to back Theresa May or face losing Brexit altogether”.
“Writing in the Daily Mail, he says fellow Leavers have to face the 'awkward reality' that Remainers will thwart the 2016 referendum result unless the EU withdrawal agreement is passed. Mr Rees-Mogg admits that his change of heart will prompt accusations of treachery … But he says the Prime Minister's plan is now the only way to ensure Britain leaves the EU”. So what did he actually say in that article?
“I apologise for changing my mind. Theresa May’s deal is a bad one, it does not deliver on the promises made in the Tory Party manifesto and its negotiation was a failure of statesmanship … A £39 billion bill for nothing, a minimum of 21 months of vassalage, the continued involvement of the European Court and, worst of all, a backstop with no end date”. The usual lack of understanding of the UK’s international obligations, then.
But then comes his get-out clause. “Yet, I am now willing to support it if the Democratic Unionist Party does, and by doing so will be accused of infirmity of purpose by some and treachery by others … I have come to this view because the numbers in Parliament make it clear that all the other potential outcomes are worse and an awkward reality needs to be faced”. As Fred Flintstone might have said, Hold It … HOLD IT.
He’s willing to support it if the DUP does. But the deal still contains the so-called Irish Backstop. And the DUP remains implacably opposed to the Irish Backstop. As the BBC has now reported, DUP leader Arlene Foster has told “The backstop in that Withdrawal Agreement makes it impossible for us to sign up to the agreement”.
And Rees Mogg has confirmed his view that if the DUP says No, so shall he: “I won't abandon the DUP because I think they are the champions of the Union of the United Kingdom”. With ERG vice-chairman Steve Baker also railing against Theresa May’s deal, to the extent that he is proposing resigning the Tory whip, that deal is toast.
Anyone at the Mail feel they’ve been conned? Their headline has been rendered a work of fiction, Jacob Rees Mogg isn’t really sorry as he won’t be changing his mind, and the PM is not on the verge of any breakthrough. They’ve been had.
Still, the Honourable Member for times long past got his money, so that’s all right, then.
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