Tory Brexit leader Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke out Sunday on the poor state of Brexit negotiations and called for the government to be more hard-nosed in dealing with the European Union in remarks which have again been interpreted as being targeted directly at the Prime Minister.
The so-called Brexit Divorce Bill was one of the “strongest cards” in Britain’s negotiating hands and to not have played it at all is “an error” and could leave Britain a “vassal state”, leading Brexiteer and backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.
While Mr. Rees-Mogg said now was not the time to accept that negotiations were not working and to walk away from negotiations, nevertheless, the government’s negotiating team should show more courage. He said:
“I think we should be clear and stronger. Basically, the deal is very simple. We are paying a very large amount of money, £40 billion, and in return we want a trade deal. Everything else is essentially incidental to that.”
Explaining that the European Union would find itself in a very difficult position if Britain refused to pay and that this could be leveraged to bring the EU to being more reasonable at the negotiating table, the Brexiteer continued:
“The £40 billion is of great importance to the EU because after March next year it still has 21 months of the multiannual financial framework, and it expects that to be funded by the UK. It would have to cancel projects or get more money out of the Germans if it doesn’t get ours.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and therefore we should reiterate that and say, quite clearly, if we don’t get the trade deal we want, you don’t get the money. And that’s a very strong negotiating position.”
Remarking that the while the European Union was focussing on apparently seeking to punish the UK while other, larger issues came to the boil elsewhere, Rees-Mogg told Marr:
“The European Union thinks it is in a position of real negotiating strength. [But] without our money, it faces a real crisis next March, when it is facing problems from other countries too. If I were the EU, I would be a little bit more worried about what is going on in Italy, than whether the UK can remain a full member of Gallileo. That seems more important to the fortunes and structure of the European Union.”
“A lot of compromises have been made during the course of the negotiations. The government agreed to the EU’s timetable of the negotiations, agreed to pay a very large amount of money, and agreed to a transition period that included some things we were told wouldn’t be agreed.
“On our side, we’ve made a huge number of compromises, and on the other side… nothing has come in return. And that makes me concerned that it is all very one way. ”
Saying he had been somewhat reassured in the past week that the government appeared to remain committed to seeing Brexit through, Rees-Mogg qualified his comment by stating that nevertheless, “there are concerns, inevitably, about the way negotiations are proceeding”.
Asked about the so-called transition period presently being championed by the Prime Minister and others, which as Breitbart London reported last week was set to be extended towards the mid-2020s, Rees-Mogg explained that not only was this a concern, it also failed to solve the border issue with Ireland. He said: “This is a real problem… if we were to stay as a rule taker, as a vassal state for an indeterminate period, that would not be delivering on Brexit.”US postpones anti-DPRK sanctions as Trump walks back on meeting cancellation