Tory grassroots favourite Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Britain sends a fragment of the union flag hoisted above Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory to show “by and large we win the battles”.
The MP and Brexit cheerleader made the perhaps tongue-in-cheek offering after French president Emmanuel Macron agreed to lend the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK.
The 70 metre (230ft) long tapestry depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror, and culminates in the Battle of Hastings.
It is the first time the artwork will have left France in 950 years.
Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, Rees-Mogg was asked if he was “excited” the tapestry is coming to Britain, and if he thought it was “maybe a bit cheeky of the French sending something celebrating the Norman victory over the British”. In response, he said:
“I think it is a splendid gesture. I’m sure many people will want to go to visit it. We could send them in return a fragment of the Union Jack from Nelson’s ship at Trafalgar - which was sold last week - as a reminder that by and large we win the battles.”
Labour peer and anti-Brexit campaigner Lord Adonis, also appearing on the show, chimed in: “Some people have suggested we send Jacob but the Bayeux Tapestry is much more recent in its views.”
Last week, a scrap of the historic flag sold for £297,000 at Sotheby’s. The flag is said to have flown aboard the ship during the famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when Nelson defeated Napoleon’s French and Spanish ships.
The reaction on social media to Rees-Mogg’s comments was one of exasperation.
Sometimes you just want to punch yourself in the face to make it all stop https://t.co/n91ms1zKz8— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) January 21, 2018
Records show that there were at least 22 different nationalities in the crew of Nelson's HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Rees-Mogg increasingly represents an uninformed person's idea of what knowledge looks like. https://t.co/X6mC5rSy6L— James O'Brien (@mrjamesob) January 21, 2018
Proof that manners does not maketh man. https://t.co/XOfMKOZxhW— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) January 21, 2018
Jacob Rees-Mogg really has to move on from 1805. https://t.co/2hVHMxLCw9— Otto English (@Otto_English) January 21, 2018
Yet again Rees-Mogg shows he is nowhere near as clever as he would have us believe... https://t.co/fVuduFZUdi— David Banks (@DBanksy) January 21, 2018