Former Liberal Democrat leader warns Jacob Rees-Mogg over Brexit threats

PUBLISHED: 15:55 30 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:56 30 January 2018

Lord Campbell of Pittenweem


A former Liberal Democrat leader has accused Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg of threatening the Lords over Brexit.

Lord Campbell of Pittenweem even dubbed the leading Conservative Hard Brexiteer "Robespierre" after one of the most influential figures of the French Revolution.

Prominent backbencher Mr Rees-Mogg, the bookmakers' favourite to be the next Tory leader, has said the Lords "will, as an institution, get into difficulties" if it attempted to frustrate Brexit.

Lord Campbell, highlighting another reference from the French Revolution, said: "Those who want us to leave the European Union have already got their own committee of public safety.

"Mr William Rees-Mogg [Jacob's father and a former Times editor] bids to be Robespierre, and he has threatened this House... Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg. One Rees-Mogg is very much like another.

"He's threatened us. Well, my answer to threats from Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg is this.

"I'm not here to thwart the will of the House of Commons. Like the Noble Lord who's just spoken, I spent 28 years at the other end of the building asserting the primacy of the Commons, and I will not depart from that simply because I've been sent here.

"But I know what my duty is, and it is to bring to the attention of the other House the manifest defects which exist in this legislation.

"We may not make them any wiser, but if we do it properly with this Bill, we will make them better informed. Heavens knows, they need it."

Lord Campbell told peers that Brexiteers seemed determined to undermine Chancellor Philip Hammond, and that Theresa May was also being undermined within her party.

"I think in the light of the conduct of the members of the Conservative Party and the Cabinet, there must be the possibility that during the passage of this Bill through [the Lords], the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister, could face a leadership contest," he added.

"This is Chamberlain territory, and it's consequences for this legislation are beyond understanding."

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