Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested that the government would use EU law to circumvent the Benn Act and push through a no-deal Brexit if there is no deal agreed with the bloc by October 19.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, the arch-Brexiteer would not admit that Boris Johnson has to request an extension to Article 50 in those circumstances, saying only that this is “speculation”.
When presenter Caroline Quinn asked him how the prime minister could get out of it, he said: “That’s a very interesting speculation on what the law of the land is, but unfortunately, or fortunately it may turn out, the law of this land is subject to the law of the European Union currently, so we have to see what the legal eagles think.”
Asked if he meant that Johnson could take his case to European courts, he said: “All I’m saying is that Theresa May got an extension not through UK law but through EU law.
“And until the 1972 European Communities Act is repealed, EU law is superior law in the UK.
“And the Remainers know that – the remainiacs all know that, because they know that it takes two to tango and any extension has to be agreed by the council.
“And so the legal questions are sometimes oversimplified I think.”
But fellow guest, shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said he was “making stuff up.”
“I think Jacob’s making stuff up. I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said.
“I think it’s quite clear what the Benn Act says and I think Boris Johnson understands that too and has given that assurance to the court. ”So quite where Jacob’s going I’m not sure – he’s had a long day. I don’t know whether he has some special insight that nobody else yet has landed on. I don’t think so though.”
Rees-Mogg has also come under criticism for his loyalty to Boris Johnson’s latest proposed solution to the Irish backstop problem, as commentators have noted how similar it is to Theresa May’s previous solution.
At the time, Rees-Mogg called May’s solution “completely cretinous, impractical, and a betrayal of common sense”.
Confronted with its similarities to the current plan, Rees-Mogg admitted he may have to eat his words.
“I don’t know but there’s a line from Churchill saying he often had to eat his own words and found it to be a very nourishing diet,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.