Chance of Brexit deal looking ‘more positive’ says Jacob Rees-Mogg

13 October 2019, 11:02

Jacob Rees-Mogg said the prospect of a Brexit deal was looking 'more positive' today
Jacob Rees-Mogg said the prospect of a Brexit deal was looking 'more positive' today. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said the prospect of reaching a Brexit deal is looking ‘a lot more positive’ than it did last week.

The Commons leader made his remarks ahead of a Cabinet briefing at lunchtime today on the state of the negotiations.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: "Well what's happening is the Government made some proposals to the European Union and these are being considered and negotiations seem to be taking a serious turn and that's encouraging.

"I think it's always difficult to put specific odds on things, but it certainly looks a lot more positive this week than it did last week."

He added: "I think that he (Boris Johnson) is somebody who even the arch euro-sceptics, even a member of the Brexit Party can trust and have confidence in."

On the specifics of the Prime Minister's Brexit plan, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "We'll have to wait and see what the precise details are.

"Naturally in the middle of a negotiation these matters are extremely sensitive as everyone is compromising to some degree and therefore to give negotiations the best chance of succeeding, it is best to be discreet about them.

"I can tell you that the Cabinet will be briefed at 12.45 this afternoon as to how far these negotiations have gone."

Mr Rees-Mogg continued: "We will see more details emerge over the next few days."

When pushed on whether the Prime Minister's latest Brexit plan is similar to Theresa May's which he called "completely cretinous", Mr Rees-Mogg said: "We'll have to find out in a day or two whether I'll have to eat my words or not - time will tell.

"There's a line from Churchill saying that he often had to eat his words and he found it to be a very nourishing diet - and that is something that happens in politics."

Mr Rees-Mogg continued: "But it is ultimately a question of trust about the direction of where we are going.

"I trust Boris Johnson to ensure the relationship the United Kingdom has with the European Union is one where we are not a vassal state."

On the need for further compromise with the EU, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "We've already made compromises - if you look at the House of Lords report from 2017 we don't owe the EU any money if we leave without a deal.

"So the £39 billion is not owed under UK, international or EU law and that is a pretty big compromise, to be willing to give £39 billion of British taxpayers' money to the EU to secure a deal."

Mr Rees-Mogg continued: "If we're in control of our law then we would have left the European Union properly.

"The problem with the previous deal was that under the backstop we were potentially never going to be in control of our law and therefore we would have remained a vassal state."

On the DUP's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds speaking out against rumours of the details of the Prime Minister's plan, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "The Prime Minister is Minister of the Union and is deeply and personally committed to ensuring the union is robust and prosperous.

"And I don't believe the Prime Minister would do anything that undermined the integrity of the UK."

He added: "The Prime Minister has made it clear that the United Kingdom will remain a single customs territory and that Northern Ireland will remain within a UK customs union. He's been explicit about that."

On the possibility of a small extension to ensure a Brexit deal is achieved, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "If we get the deal and we have a vote possibly next Saturday and that is agreed, getting it through in legislation won't be that problematic.

"The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear we are leaving on October 31 - this is of great importance."