‘Ideological stubbornness’ - Rees-Mogg under fire for blocking tourism campaign

·2-min read
Jacob Rees-Mogg  (PA) (PA Wire)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (PA) (PA Wire)

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been criticised for blocking a major Government-backed tourism campaign.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is hoping to launch a huge advertisement campaign aimed at luring tourists from big foreign markets including India, China, Australia and Japan to the UK in order to revitalise the struggling tourism industry which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

However, The Guardian reports that Mr Rees-Mogg – who serves as Brexit opportunities and government efficiencies minister – has refused to sign off on the department’s £800,000 budget despite agreeing seperate £4million VisitBritain campaigns.

A senior government source accused Rees-Mogg of having “halted British tourism from being promoted” due to his “ideological stubbornness”.

They told the paper: “Jacob Rees-Mogg is totally unsuited to modern governance. His kneejerk ideological stubbornness halted British tourism from being promoted in key international markets, at the very time when many sectors are still on their knees from Covid. He may wrap himself in the union jack at home, but he is unwilling to fly that flag abroad.”

International tourism has dropped 20 per cent from 2019 and Whitehall insiders have warned the Cabinet Office minister that many small businesses and visitor attractions are suffering as a result.

Visitors from the 16 key countries account for a huge proportion of income at arts and culture institutions, and reportedly account for more than 50 per cent of spending at heritage sites.

Mr Rees-Mogg, an advocate for a more global Britain, is understood to be sceptical about the effectiveness of government advertising campaigns in countries with populations that may decide to travel to Britain regardless.

But a source close to Rees-Mogg said: “This has been a protracted negotiation between departments. It is perfectly acceptable for ministers to question the value of each proposed campaign. Is it the best use of taxpayers’ money and is it going to deliver the results they want to see?”