Thursday 25th January 2018 was the day the Brexiters in the Conservative Party started to make their voice heard. The previous day, Jacob Rees-Mogg had questioned Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis about the transition arrangement being proposed by the UK Government. It became clear that the Government were close to agreeing harsh terms set by the EU. Those terms were that until December 2020…
- The UK would require the UK’s continued participation in The Customs Union and The Single Market (with all four freedoms)
- The UK would continue to implement EU law and would be required to abide by any new laws introduced by the EU during the transitional arrangement.
- The ECJ would have full jurisdiction and the UK would not be allowed to attend any meetings except by special invitation.
- The UK would pay a yearly fee during the transition arrangement (thought to be in the region of £10 billion a year).
- As part of the Customs Union, the UK would not be able to negotiate or sign it’s own trade deals.
On 25th January 2018, news of the deal started to trend on Twitter and became front page news. The Brexiters were enraged and Jacob Rees-Mogg announced that a speech would be delivered at Churcher’s College, Petersfield. The Prime Minister was in Davos as was the Chancellor Philip Hammond. Philip Hammond’s speech called for “a very modest” divergence from the EU which was a red rag to a bull as far as the Brexiters were concerned. He tried to back track on Twitter but the damage was done.
Having read Jacob Rees-Mogg’s speech, it seems obvious that he is prepared to mount a challenge to Theresa May’s leadership. Jacob Rees-Mogg is Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) an influential group of pro-Brexit Tory backbenchers who have the power to get the 48 signatures required to start the contest. The Conservatives are split, but even so, how can the Government claim that they are respecting the result of the referendum in which the population voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. First past the post in elections has a very long tradition in the UK but the vote has been questioned over and over since 23rd June 2016.
I think we may be days away from a leadership contest. My preferred candidate for Prime Minister is Jacob Rees-Mogg.