Jacob Rees-Mogg, the outspoken backbencher, has started a surprising broadside against the government, criticising it for “abject weakness” over the plans to allow a temporary extension to the membership of the United Kingdom to the customs union.
The plan was proposed last week as a final resort “backstop.” It has won the conditional support of Cabinet Brexiters such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, with the latter urging pro Leave MPs to give Theresa May, the British Prime Minister “space and time” to make a better deal in place before they run out of time.
However, the leader of the influential group of Brexit-backing MPs and North East Somerset MP has lashed out at the said proposals. During his podcast for the ConHome website, Rees-Mogg said that it was “disconcerting when the government says one thing and then agrees to do another.”
Citing that May had originally supported Remain, he said that trust was “very important” – especially for those who voted Leave.
He stated: “I think for the government to be preparing for failure two and half years before the point at which they ought to be ready is just weak.”
He added: “To go into the negotiations to say to Mr Barnier, ‘we will kowtow before you in every way you possibly want if we cannot get everything ready by the due date’ encourages him to say, ‘just kowtow, I’m quite happy’. And make no effort to come to a sensible agreement, I think it is a sign of abject weakness.”
He claims that the backstop made it “very attractive to the EU not to offer us anything further, and therefore it is essentially a trap.”
He instead urged PM May to make preparations for leaving without a Brexit deal “as an essential part of the negotiations,” once again reiterating that her government had been “weak about that.”
He added: “I think we need some backbone in these negotiations.
“I fear we’re getting to the point where you wonder whether the government really wants to leave at all.”