Rees-Mogg: ‘Delay’ Is Code for Stopping Brexit

Conservative MP and Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), Jacob Rees-Mogg gestures as he speaks during a meeting of The Bruges Group, a pro-Brexit think tank, in London on January 23, 2019. - The Bruges Group are long-time supporters of leaving the European Union and are against the emergence …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty

Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned that Remainer MPs’ discussion of delaying Brexit is “code for stopping” the UK from leaving the EU.

The chairman of the influential European Research Group (ERG) told LBC listeners Monday, “I think delay is a proxy for stopping and that is being proposed by people who never liked Brexit in the first place and are seeking to prevent it taking place.

“So delay is code for stopping and all your listeners should be aware of that.

“If we can’t get any deal we have to leave without a deal.”

The Conservative MP for North East Somerset also hit back against “bizarre” Project Fear predictions regarding leaving the EU without a deal.

“Project Fear has got so bizarre that the Queen is going to get helicoptered out of Buckingham Palace and moved to a disused bunker in Wiltshire… That’s all got really silly,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

The Brexiteer added that he was focussed on the genuine concerns of “sensible people,” saying, “That is why I am working with Kit Malthouse, Nicky Morgan, and so on to try to find a way of having a way of doing some limited deal that ensures the smoothness of the transition.”

Mr Rees-Mogg is one of several Leave and Remain Tory MPs who have united around the “Malthouse Compromise” as an alternative to Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

The prime minister is set to return to Brussels to attempt to renegotiate the contentious Irish backstop arrangements which could lock Northern Ireland into the EU’s Customs Union if the bloc and the UK fail to reach an agreement on their future relationship by the end of the transition period in December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement (‘Plan A’) was voted down in Parliament last month, with MPs voting in favour of a ‘Plan B’ amendment last week that would seek alternative arrangements for the backstop. However, members of the ERG including vice-chairman Steve Baker have said that the only agreement Brexiteers would agree to would be along the lines of the Malthouse Compromise.

The Compromise, also backed by Remain-supporting MPs, would mean the UK leaving the EU as planned on March 29th and extending the transition to December 2021 in order to have more time to negotiate a free trade agreement.

If the EU does not accept the proposal, the Compromise details that the UK would ask the bloc to accept the extended transition period and the country would prepare to leave the EU on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms after December 2021. In exchange, the UK would guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and honour the £39 billion divorce bill.

Nicky Morgan MP backed the Compromise, writing in The Telegraph that as a result, she had “lost friends” who still support Remain.

“I voted Remain in 2016 and don’t regret it. But I wasn’t on the winning side,” Ms Morgan wrote.  “Once I had accepted that, and then the referendum result (which despite repeated accusations I have never supported overturning), I was clear that the UK would be leaving the EU.”

Our hope is that after the initial reaction the EU will now engage seriously with the [Malthouse] plans,” she added, though that  “initial reaction” from Brussels strongly suggests the bloc is not willing to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.

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