BREX FACTOR: Jacob's crackers... and our worst Brexiteer of the year

PUBLISHED: 16:00 21 December 2018

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

After 12 months of lunacy, Steve Anglesey names his twit parade, with JRM of the ERG at number one.

THE BOYS OF ’90

“Have been so impressed with Jacob Rees-Mogg in the last few days,” wrote England legend Peter Shilton on Twitter as December’s confidence coup against Theresa May failed, adding, “He really knows what he is talking about and puts it across in a calm and calculated manner!”

Meanwhile his former Italia 90 team-mate Chris Waddle was tweeting: “Well done Theresa May now let’s leave, Brexit with no deal, we will be fine.”

While we wait for results to come in from Terry Butcher, Mark Wright et al, it’s worth noting that Waddle missed a penalty in the fateful semi-final shoot-out against West Germany and Shilts got nowhere near any of their penalties – while Remainer Gary Lineker not only scored in normal time but successfully converted his spot-kick.

LUKE NASH-JONES

The UKIP blogger offered this advice on how the party could spring a surprise victory in the local elections in May: “You are a guerilla! You hide in a tree, you keep your head down, and you take that one shot, and kill the king. You take out the leader. The army is lost. Chaos. The attack on yourself is halted. Victory. FOCUS. As Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow’.”

Perhaps as a consequence of this unorthodox strategy, UKIP lost 123 of the 126 seats they were defending.

JO MARNEY

In July, UKIP leader Henry Bolton’s girlfriend told her Twitter followers: “You don’t need an invasion of immigrants to be able to enjoy a nice curry. There’s a difference between losing a culture and enjoying other cultures. Would you like to go to India and for them to have adopted British culture? I wouldn’t.”

Yeah, imagine if you went over there and the Indians were all drinking tea and playing cricket!

Marney later said of the period she spent holed up in Bolton’s flat when the couple had supposedly split, “I felt like Anne Frank during the war”. She later clarified: “I didn’t mean I was a Jewish girl that was going to be captured by the Nazis. The situation was similar. I couldn’t go outside, or near windows.”

NEIL HAMILTON

In March, the former UKIP leader in Wales accused children of being childish during a radio segment about what kids think of Brexit. Hamilton moaned that the group of 10- and 11-year-olds had not featured any teeny Brexiteers, railing against the “childish responses of the children” and claiming reporter Tomos Morgan had “failed to question any of the patently childish answers given to him”. Yet another example of the old saying, “kids and disgraced former ministers who lose their seats after a cash for questions inquiry do say the funniest things”.

ARRON BANKS

With his Russian connections under investigation, the Leave.EU backer told the Sunday Times that a trip he took to Moscow in February 2016, four months before the referendum, had been a family holiday on which “no meetings were had with anyone, we visited the Hermitage Museum and went on a river cruise”.

Alas, the Hermitage Museum is 450 miles away from Moscow in St Petersburg, and river cruises do not run in the Russian capital in February because the rivers are frozen up. Banks later claimed the meeting had actually taken place in March 2015 – when the jolly boating weather in Moscow hit minus 4 degrees at its coldest!

ANDREA JENKYNS

The Tory MP, married to fellow hardliner Jack Lopresti, revealed in January that they had nicknamed their baby ‘Brexit Clifford’ as he was born on the day Article 50 was triggered in parliament.

Let’s hope that doesn’t get shortened, since being known as ‘Brex Clifford’ wouldn’t be the greatest start in life.

Jenkyns later told Question Time viewers that Britain was being outflanked in negotiations because “we haven’t played all the cards in our arsenal” – presumably before calling on Theresa May to shuffle her pack of guns.

ANDREW LILICO

Like Lloyd Russell-Moyle with the mace, Vote Leave’s chief economist strode up and swanned off with the title of most unpleasant man in British politics by tweeting on December 14: “It’s impossible to avoid the thought that that 4-6% margin that the murder of Jo Cox cost the Leave vote in 2016 has had a profound impact on politics. (Leave was 10% ahead & rising, before her horrific murder.) One of the most influential assassinations in British history.”

Lilico later told his “shameful” critics to “get a life”, adding “If Leave had won by an additional 4-6% (as it probably would have done but for that murder) current political debates would be very different… Cox murdered 16 June 2016. Campaigning suspended, costing Leave campaigning momentum & direct vote losses.”

Poor Andrew! He stopped short of asking Brendan Cox and family to apologise for the inconvenience, but maybe he’s saving that for 2019.

NADINE DORRIES

With a novel and a novella published in 2018 and another full-length book due in early January, the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire just can’t stop writing! She also found time to launch a newsletter, which included a section on some rather odd “thrifty ways to make over your home”.

One was: “Conceal your unsightly wi-fi router by hiding it in a hollowed-out hardback book. Use a scalpel to cut out all the pages inside, leaving just the front, back and spine and it’s ready to set the router inside and show off on a bookshelf.”

But, dear TNE readers, make sure you use the works of arch-Remoaners like Ian Dunt and James O’Brien rather than your precious copy of Nadine’s seminal The Children Of Lovely Lane!

ANDREW PIERCE

The pundit known as ‘Tory Boy’ claimed in a June Daily Mail article that The New European had moved into a “war room based at Millbank Tower, a few hundred yards from Parliament” by “shadowy multi-millionaire spin doctor” Roland Rudd. Which was news to us as we continued to work from our offices in Norwich.

The Mail subsequently retracted the claim and apologised, proving Andrew knows as much about TNE as he does about football. When Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona, he memorably tweeted: “Britain gives £80m aid to Brazil, which breaks football transfer record by selling player for £198m. Something wrong here.”

DOMINIC RAAB

During four glorious months as Brexit secretary, he told a Westminster committee “we have made clear that we will do nothing that will draw a customs border down the Red Sea”, confessed that despite being a senior figure in the Vote Leave campaign he “hadn’t quite understood” that “if you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing” and shrugged off a question about statistics from Andrew Marr with the words “forgive me if I don’t keep a laser-like focus on the substance”.

Then he resigned over a deal he himself had helped negotiate. Great work!

WHITE PAPER TRANSLATORS

“When they met... it was murder,” ran the opening credits voiceover of classic 1980s TV show Hart To Hart. And when DExEU and the Foreign Office got together in the summer to translate the government’s white paper, several foreign languages were murdered too.

In French, “a principled Brexit” came out as “a virtuous Brexit”. In German, a “practical Brexit” became “a handy Brexit.” The text in German – which we managed to incorrectly call “Deutsche” instead of “Deutsch” on page one of the document – also boasted: “Brexit is the biggest democratic training session in UK history” (we meant “democratic exercise”). Fishing communities were called fischergemeinden – literally “the act of praying for fish”. Anyone know the German for schadenfreude?

DANIEL HANNAN

A year of humiliation for the so-called ‘Brain of Brexit’. He claimed that part of the reason for landlocked Switzerland’s financial success was that they are “outside the Common Fisheries Policy”. He wrote that the Windrush affair “proved the system worked”. He railed against the “EU’s unscientific ban on Argentine beef” (70% of Argentina’s chilled beef exports go to the EU) and he moaned about banana tariffs hurting former British colonies (they don’t apply to African, Caribbean or Pacific bananas at all).

It ended with the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe group formerly led by Hannan being ordered to repay nearly £500,000 of EU funds after an investigation into their spending. Some £225,000 of that was money claimed by ACRE for a three-day conference at a luxury Miami beach resort which had “an almost exclusively American audience” and an agenda that barely mentioned the EU.

GERARD BATTEN

Fond of moaning that the EU has contributed nothing to Britain, UKIP’s leader chose to stage his first party conference at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre. The ICC opened in 1991, thanks partly to a £50 million donation from the EU.

Batten’s other highlights included missing a public appearance at Lowestoft fish market’s morning auction because he overslept and breaking off from his war on Islam to declare war on high street bakers Greggs after reading they would “rebrand in a move towards a gender-neutral business model following criticism that their name sounds too male”. He ranted on Twitter: “A cheese roll is a cheese roll. When is this madness going to stop?” Then someone pointed out that the Greggs story came from a spoof news website...

CAT-OWNING ’KIPPER

Speaking at the February UKIP EGM which saw Henry Bolton sacked over his girlfriend’s racist tweets, an elderly delegate from Thanet told the crowd: “We all make mistakes, especially with wives. My second wife was considerably younger than me and she was a little bit feisty. What happened was I went with my second wife to a Conservative function and she decided to wear a see-through catsuit. The result was I was ostracised, she was ostracised and it took me a bit of time to get back to my position with the council. I suspect this is something like the situation we have at the moment.”

The party’s outgoing chairman later explained that despite this speech and Bolton’s dismissal, the day had gone well because “at our 2000 AGM a party member died of cardiac arrest. Today at this point every member is still with us. And on that basis, I consider today to be a success”.

ANDREW BRIDGEN

Seen on the day of the recent confidence vote walking off the BBC’s Westminster podium rather than share screen time with his fellow Tory MP James Cleverly, Bridgen’s career highlight came in October when he revealed on Radio Five Live that he believed everyone in England is entitled to an Irish passport and vice-versa.

Bridgen told an audibly shocked Stephen Nolan: “As an English person I have the right to go to Ireland and I believe that I can ask for a passport, can’t I? I’m sure that currently we have a reciprocal agreement where I can go to Ireland and ask for an Irish passport and someone from Ireland can come to the UK and ask for a British passport. That’s the system we have, isn’t it?”

A staggering lack of research on Europe done by this key member of the European Research Group!

ROD LIDDLE

The Sun columnist called on Theresa May to resign despite her victory in the confidence vote, claiming that the next prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be none other than busted flush/laughing stock/detail-free zone/real-life Rowley Birkin QC, David Davis.

Liddle wrote “Dominic Raab would not be a bad choice (Brex Factor note: He WOULD be a bad choice) but we need a clever little bastard who knows his stuff. So, you Tories – get behind David Davis. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.”

DAVID DAVIS

DD was outraged at being pressganged into approving the Chequers agreement on Friday, July 6 but only resigned as Brexit secretary on Monday, July 9.

Coincidentally, the delay gave motor-racing enthusiast Davis the opportunity to spend Sunday, July 8 as a VIP hospitality guest at the British Grand Prix, where he was spotted in the pits – a familiar venue for Brexiteers – and no doubt enjoyed all the chicanery. He later explained the gap between Chequers and his resignation with the words: “This was the sort of thing you have to think carefully about… this is not a simple or easy decision, it takes time”.

And where better to mull it over than in the calm and quiet of a Formula One race, where noise levels close to the track can reach 140dB – as loud as a jet plane?

NIGEL FARAGE

The nicotine-stained man-frog had tough times away from his lilypad in September. On tour in Australia, he drew fewer than 500 people to the 2,500-capacity Brisbane Town Hall and his Sydney gig was cancelled with less than half the tickets sold, despite the Tix.com website offering seats at 40% discount.

Later the same month, he headlined the first big Leave Means Leave rally at Bolton Wanderers’ University of Bolton Stadium. Alas, organisers had failed to notice that the north-west town was also hosting its annual Pride event on that day, meaning that Brexity attendees had to navigate their way past a mass LGBT+ parade to get to the venue.

Once Farage had finished spreading his own gospel of diversity and tolerance, loved-up Leavers were then able to head back into the town’s Victoria Square for a Pride party featuring live performances from KY Kelly and Davina De Camp.

BORIS JOHNSON

The year began badly for Boris when, in January, researchers in Switzerland discovered he was the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of an 18th century woman whose syphilis-ridden mummy has been found buried under a church in Basel. “It’s humiliating to find out you’re related to someone with such a notorious past,” said the syphilitic mummy.

Twelve months of turmoil followed, during which Johnson proposed the building of a ‘Brexit bridge’ between Britain and France. This idea was ridiculed when it was pointed out that (a) an already giant construction job would have to stand at least 500m above the waterline to stop cargo ships hitting it, (b) the Channel Tunnel already exists and (c) Boris had already squandered £46 million on London’s Garden Bridge fiasco.

BoJo then pivoted to a Brexit bridge between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, an idea which foundered when a retired offshore engineer pointed out that it would have to be partly built upon a Ministry of Defence dump of more than 1.5 tons of unexploded munitions. In addition, because of the great depth of much of the 22-mile route, the project would require 54 support towers of heights never achieved anywhere in the world.

JACOB REES-MOGG

“Brexit is more important than anyone but the Queen,” declared the chairman of the 1822 Committee, who began the year by posting an Instagram video of him teaching two-year-old son Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius Rees-Mogg to say “Brexit” (well, it’s a lot easier than learning to say “Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius Rees-Mogg”).

Crackers Jacob spent much of the 12 months railing against the idea of a People’s Vote despite starting the idea in the first place, having told the Commons in October 2011: “Indeed, we could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the renegotiation is completed.”

But these kind of contradictions are nothing new to Hogwarts ghost JRM, who opposed the liberalisation of Irish abortion laws despite admitting that his investment firm put £5 million into pills used in abortions, and demanded a freeze on Russian assets in the UK after the Salisbury nerve agent attack despite his own investment firm having £217 million staked with Russian companies, including several on a list banned from trading in the US because of their strong connections to Vladimir Putin. Somerset Capital Management also launched an investment fund in Dublin and warned prospective clients that the event of a hard Brexit, “there is likely to be considerable uncertainty as to the position of the UK and the arrangements which will apply to its relationships with the EU”.

The Dickensian undertaker ended the year by explaining that while a 52%-48% win had been a clear mandate for Leave at the referendum, a 64%-36% victory for Theresa May in the confidence vote was a total disaster which meant she must resign immediately.

So let us indulge in the floccinaucinihilipilification* of Jacob Rees-Mogg, our Worst Brexiteer Of 2018!

* The action or habit of estimating something as worthless.

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