Leading Brexiteer and chair of a Eurosceptic group of MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg will, if it continues as stated, vote against the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan, in a revelation of growing back-bench discontent that came as Brexit Secretary David Davis was handing his resignation to Theresa May.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the otherwise obscure Conservative back-bencher who has become a figurehead for a clear, honest Brexit made the remarks in a column for the Daily Telegraph Sunday evening in which he made clear that “On the face of it, this deal does not fulfil the promises Theresa May made to Britain.”
The Prime Minister often said “no deal is better than a bad deal”; the quality of the Chequers proposals make this look a particularly interesting assertion.
Sadly, the real problem with Chequers is that it has been driven by those who never thought that leaving the EU was a good idea. It is the ultimate statement of managing decline. It focuses on avoiding risk, not on the world of opportunity outside the EU. Pragmatism has come to mean defeatism.
These proposals now go to the EU, which may reject them. However, as it is alleged that they were hawked around the Continental chancelleries before being shown to ministers – which, if true, would be a constitutional impropriety – it is possible that they are already agreed in outline. After that, they must come before Parliament where there will be a “meaningful“ vote and legislation. Although I await further details, if the proposals are as they currently appear I will vote against them, and others may well do the same. I note that any government that wins major votes on the back of opposition support against the known will of its electors and members never succeeds.”
Rees-Mogg has long been a steadfast public ally to the Prime Minister — while making his views on Brexit clear, also making his support to her government clear. That long-held insistence — which at times even appeared to descend into farce as Mr Rees-Mogg defended the Prime Minister despite his clear objections to her Brexit policies — now seems to have all but collapsed as the backbencher goes public with his intention to vote against the government in the chamber.
This sign of rebellion came just as news of outgoing Brexit Secretary David Davis announced his resignation, citing his principled objection to the government plan for Brexit and the situation following the plan through would leave the country in. Explaining that the Prime Minister’s plan would hand a “sword of Damocles” to the European Union, which they could dangle over the House of Common, Davis said this soft Brexit would actually give Parliament “illusory rather than real [power]. It’s painting something as returning sovereignty, returning control to the House of Commons but in practice it isn’t doing so.”
Mr Davis has been replaced by fellow Brexiteer Dominic Raab, although given the Prime Minister’s determination to push for a short Brexit against the wishes of the British people, it is not clear to what degree he will be able to make his own views heard in the cabinet, and during continuing negotiations.