Jacob Rees-Mogg says a no-deal Brexit could be on the cards if Theresa May’s Chequers plan doesn’t make it through the House of Commons.
Leaving the EU with no deal is “nothing to be fearful about”, he added.
The renowned Eurosceptic and MP for North East Somerset joined Julia Hartley-Brewer on the No Nonsense Breakfast Show, and said that it was time for the Prime Minister to listen to opposers of her Chequers policy and make whatever changes were needed to get a plan accepted by MPs.
May should ‘go back to Mansion House policy’
“What the PM set out in her Mansion House speech is a compromise that both Remainers and Leavers accepted at the time,” said Rees-Mogg.
“It gets us out the EU comprehensively, there are some bits of it that I wouldn’t have chosen but they’re not unreasonable. But I don’t think Chequers does it, it’s a policy that needs to be changed.
“The policy needs to go back to Mansion House and it needs to be clear to the EU that they won’t get £39 billion unless we get a respectable trade deal which is what we want out of it.”
In her Mansion House speech in March, the PM said the referendum “was a vote to take control of our borders, laws and money” and “the new agreement we reach with the EU must endure… [we must] not find ourselves back at the negotiating table because things have broken down.”
“And if she doesn’t change the policy?” Hartley-Brewer asked.
“Then it comes to votes in parliament,” responded Rees-Mogg.
‘It looks like there’s no support for Chequers deal’
“The question is, will the Prime Minister have a majority in parliament for the Chequers deal? It looks like she doesn’t,” Rees-Mogg continued.
“Yesterday Peter Mandelson came out to say it was a very bad deal, and that indicates that the pro-European wing of the labour party doesn’t like it.
“Normally the opposition votes against things because that’s what oppositions do - if there isn’t sufficient support in the Conservative party, this deal will not get through the House of Commons.”
If it didn’t make it through, he said, another deal would have to be negotiated - which would mean still paying the £39 billion divorce bill - or the UK would have to leave without a deal.
“Then we have to have another deal or leave on WTO [World Trade Organisation] terms. Leaving on WTO terms means we trade with the EU the same way we trade with the rest of the world, which is nearly 60% of our trade, and we don’t have to pay them £39 billion. it’s nothing to be fearful about.”
‘Government would be wise to allow amendments’
Rees-Mogg added: “People like me who’ve long favoured leaving the EU think that being outside of it will be a great advantage, it’ll be economically better for us.
“The only people who think leaving is this great disruption economically are people who always backed Remain. It is difficult to have people in charge who backed Remain.”
Hartley-Brewer then challenged him as to whether her Europe adviser Olly Robbins - a Remainer - should be ousted, he said: “I wouldn’t pick on individual civil servants. This is the responsibility of the Prime Minister that she pushed through the cabinet, not Mr Robbins or any other civil servants.”
MPs will vote today on a series of amendments to the Chequers bill, some tabled by Rees-Mogg and his European Research Group, of which he is chair.
“You never know until the government decides what amendments it’ll accept if any, we will find that out later,” he said.
“We’ve got a meeting at the European Research Group this afternoon where we’ll discuss how the day will proceed from our point of view. I think we have significant support and the government would be wise to allow the amendments.”