Jacob Rees-Mogg peddled lies - but don't expect him to apologise
The Sun yesterday acknowledged its story on lower prices after Brexit was false. But Jacob Rees-Mogg, who enthusiastically endorsed it, remains shtum
It was, by any standards, a belter of a clarification.
Appearing on page 2 of The Sun yesterday, it ran to 214 words - incredibly, longer than the original article it was correcting.
It followed an article in the paper last month in which they calculated the enormous savings which would be enjoyed by British consumers once the UK had freed itself from the strait-jacket of the EU's customs union. Nike trainers would cost £20.40 less! Steak down £1.68! Cigarettes slashed by £6.16! "Mozzarella-type cheese" - as opposed to, you know, mozzarella - snipped by 69p!
It was shared approvingly by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory hardliner ranked by the bookies as the party's likely next leader, who posted it on Twitter with the message "Thanks to the Sun for calculating the huge savings for us all outside the Customs Union, except for the one on cigarettes which no government would pass on". 3,143 people retweeted it and 5,356 liked it.
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The only problem, the only slight botheration, was that it was innumerate twaddle, as Mr Rees-Mogg likely knew.
As many pointed out at the time, and as the Sun acknowledged yesterday, the whole piece, which has long been removed from its website, was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how tariffs work along with a litany of other errors.
Thanks to the Sun for calculating the huge savings for us all outside the Customs Union, except for the one on cigarettes which no government would pass on pic.twitter.com/2LWIpTXlUC
-- Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) February 27, 2018
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It made its calculations on retail prices, when tariffs are applied when goods arrive in the UK, for example, while other goods came from nations within the EU or that it has a free trade or preferential arrangement with, so tariffs are already small or non-existent.
The Sun corrected its error (albeit not apologised). But what of Rees-Mogg, who approvingly spread this rubbish to his 127,000+ followers? Nought. Zilch.
He is clearly a Sun reader - just two days ago, he once again tweeted in its support, this time promoting its campaign on doorstep lending, noting "once again the Sun goes into battle for its readers".
Could it be that Rees-Mogg, who is making a habit of using social media to vigorously approve Britain's most-read paper, knows its support won't be unhelpful once he launches his bid for the Tory leadership (a bid his denial of nobody is buying)?
Could it be that Rees-Mogg knows that nobody is going to read the correction and that leaving the information out there (he tweeted a picture of the newspaper article, not a link to the website) will add more to the anger of Brexit voters once we're out, prices rise rather than fall, and they realise they've been lied to? Because, as a student of history, he may have cause to believe that the public wrath will turn not on the Brexiteers who sold them the lie, but they who a populist leader can scapegoat as "the other" - the EU, foreign governments, the lukewarm leavers such as Theresa May who negotiated a Britain a bad deal?
Then they might turn to a much more hardline leader, one offering a much more red-blooded, jingoistic brand of conservatism than the diet version offered by the likes of May, Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd. Say, one with Jacob Rees-Mogg and his fellow ideologues at the helm.
Of course he's not going to apologise for spreading such nonsense. It's all working out very nicely for him.