Jacob Rees-Mogg has hit back at the 20 Conservative rebels who voted in favour of Yvette Cooper’s finance bill amendment, calling the move “an opening salvo from a pea-shooter”.
The rebellion has been dubbed “guerilla warfare” in the press, with the Finance Bill amendment being seen as the first calculated move to stop a potential no deal Brexit.
Mr Rees-Mogg, a staunch Brexiteer, also likened the rebels to Donald Trump.
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“It’s an opening salvo with a pea shooter in a rather second-tier attempt to model themselves on Donald Trump and achieve a shutdown,” he said on the talkRADIO breakfast show.
“But it doesn’t make any difference to anything. The amendment merely stops the government using secondary legislation to make minor adjustments after we’ve left the European Union to small areas of the tax code.
“It is a really unimportant, uninteresting amendment that passed with a small majority.
“It’s not the end of no deal, because the Withdrawal Act says we leave on the 29th of March at 11 o’clock in the evening unless a new act of parliament has been passed.
“It’s been enormously overhyped and shows a lack of understanding of parliamentary procedures.”
'People want to leave, they don't want a deal'
Mr Rees-Mogg said that nothing, save for rewriting the Withdrawal Agreement, could convince him to vote for Theresa May’s deal when the meaningful vote, which is planned for next week, happens.
“Is there any sign the Prime Minister can get the deal through parliament?” asked Julia Hartley-Brewer.
“No, there’s no sign that anything much has changed over Christmas,” Mr Rees-Mogg replied.
“If anything, [MPs] went back to their constituencies and discovered that people wanted them to deliver on the Brexit that had been voted for in June 2016.
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“People voted to leave, they didn’t vote for a deal, and that’s what the government needs to deliver.”
He added: “Unless the text [of the Withdrawal Agreement] is changed, no, there is nothing that can be done that isn’t merely the Christmas decorations that were taken down last week. Tinsel won’t help.”
At the start of the week, Mrs May was seeking 'further assurances' from the EU, in a bid to make her deal more palatable to parliament.
Mr Rees-Mogg also insinuated that there was even a chance Brexit could not happen as planned at all.
“Can I start planning my party for the 29th of March?” asked Hartley-Brewer.
“I’d make a reservation, but make sure that it’s refundable because political events can take unexpected turns,” he replied.
“But look to get ready, that is the default position.”