Jacob Rees-Mogg has broken ranks and attacked Theresa May directly, criticising her for backsliding on her Brexit promises live on lunchtime television.
Specifically, he highlighted how the Prime Minister had promised to take back control of borders and fisheries, before both issues were surrendered to the European Union (EU) for years after Brexit, during the so-called “transition period”.
“Gradually, it looks as if we get still very fine words but we’re not getting the action that follows those words. People like me are becoming cautious about what the government is really trying to do,” he told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme.
Mr. Rees-Mogg is the leader of Parliament’s powerful, 60-strong pro-Brexit European Research Group, and is hugely popular with grassroots Brexiteers and Tory party members.
Until now, he has been careful not to directly attack the Prime Minister, so his statement marks an important shift in tone.
“There’s beginning to be a feeling, that we are modelling ourselves of the Grand Old Duke of York – that we get marched up the top of the hill and we get marched down again,” he continued.
“That, lots of things that were in the ‘transition period’ weren’t going to happen [have happened]. So, the Prime Minister on the trip to China said there wouldn’t be free movement of people, about two days before we were told fishing wouldn’t be included – and then they were included.”
He added that there was “a very clear gap between words and deeds” in relation to the Brexit transition, implying Mrs. May was betraying her Brexit promises.
Rees-Mogg: EU Using Irish Border Issue to Keep UK Locked in Single Market https://t.co/ZdTfU6QFFm
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 15, 2018
One week ago, Mrs. May reportedly attacked Mr. Rees-Mogg in front of Tory MPs, slamming his support for a swift exit from the EU’s Customs Union, and aiming to “send a strong message” to Brexiteers.
A few days later, however, he criticised Mrs. May’s favoured “backstop” option, where the UK would mirror Customs Union rules for years, insisting voters did not want a form of Brexit “perpetual purgatory”.
In the BBC interview Tuesday, Mr. Rees-Mogg also hit back at people who cannot tolerate his views on gay marriage, as advocated by the Catholic Church, accusing them of “religious bigotry”.
He said people would not refuse to work with people from other religions, like Islam, because of their spiritual views.
“Why do you pick on this view of the Catholic Church, and say you can’t hold these views in modern politics?” he asked the BBC presenter.
“You’re saying that tolerance only goes so far, and that you shouldn’t be tolerant of the teaching of the Catholic Church. So isn’t this stretching into religious bigotry?”
He added: “What’s so important is that I should be honest with voters about my views and make no bones about the fact that I’m a practising Catholic and I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church.”