Jacob Rees-Mogg claims Theresa May is abandoning the Tory party

PUBLISHED: 14:37 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:37 05 April 2019

Brexiteer Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg in Westminster. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

Brexiteer Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg in Westminster. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed Theresa May is abandoning the Conservative Party by moving towards a softer Brexit.

The European Research Group (ERG) chairman denied the prime minister had rejected him and his push for a hard Brexit.

Mr Rees-Mogg said May was instead cutting herself off from the bulk of her voters, which he said was “not very clever politics”.

When asked by BBC World At One if he had been rejected by the Prime Minister, he said: “If that’s right the prime minister is cutting herself off not from me but 70% of Conservative voters, according to opinion polls, and an even higher percentage of Conservative members.

“It doesn’t seem to be very clever politics to alienate the bulk of your party to keep happy a few people who have never accepted the referendum result, and have spent their lifetime committed to the European project.

“If that’s true it’s not that I am being abandoned, it’s that the Conservative party is being abandoned.”

Requesting a longer extension was a “symbol of failure rather than success”, said Rees-Mogg who is deeply opposed to any delay to Brexit.

He said: “I think it’s bad practice to have a second referendum before you have delivered on the first and I think the British people would feel that was an affront to the nation to be treated in such a scurvy way.”

He said he voted for May’s “deeply unsatisfactory” deal in order to keep Brexit alive but, once she steps down as she has pledged to do if Conservative MPs will back her Withdrawal Agreement, any successor would be free to rip up her deal.

Earlier in the day Rees-Mogg had been mocked on social media for a tweet which called on his peers to be as “difficult as possible” and obstruct any policies that the EU comes up with.

He tweeted: “If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible. We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.”

Anne Applebaum said: “Leading Brexiter suddenly notices that, when inside the EU, the UK has quite a lot of power....”

TechnicallyRon tweeted: “You can’t complain that the EU are controlling us and then say we have influence in the EU to do whatever we want you confused victorian mannequin.”

James O’Malley said: “I agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg that by being a member of the European Union we can more effectively influence European politics.”

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