Jacob Rees-Mogg: MPs won't back 'waffly' plan to extend Brexit transition period

David Harding
No deal: Jacob Rees-Mogg (PA)
No deal: Jacob Rees-Mogg (PA)

Arch-Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg has said Brexiteer MPs would vote down a plan for Britain to extend the transition period when it leaves the European Union.

Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group of MPs that lobbies for a hard Brexit, called Theresa May’s plan to push back the deadline ‘waffly’.

The Prime Minister revealed yesterday that she is ‘ready to consider’ an extension to the implementation period.

But, after being hit with a barrage of criticism over the idea, Mrs May later backpedalled on her statement, insisting the extension was an ‘idea’ not a ‘proposal’.

Rees-Mogg told the Today Programme: “If the government is saying to us we will pay £39bn plus, for the extension, £15bn or £16bn more per annum, and we don’t have anything in return other than a waffly political declaration, I think that will be very hard to get through the House of Commons.

“I think it will be very hard for anyone to justify to their constituents.”

Pro-EU Conservatives march in London last month (PA)
Pro-EU Conservatives march in London last month (PA)

The current plan for transition is a period of 21 months, until December 2020, in an effort to smooth Britain’s exit from the EU.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier proposed last week that it could be extended until December 2021.

During this time the UK would still be bound by EU laws and would be obliged to pay into the EU budget.

Nigel Farage, who has campaigned against the stance taking by Mrs May in negotiations (PA)
Nigel Farage, who has campaigned against the stance taking by Mrs May in negotiations (PA)

The idea has prompted more Tory in-fighting over Europe.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt has urged warring MPs to get behind Mrs May’s strategy.

He insisted this morning that the PM had not caved in to Brussels, in response to Iain Duncan Smith saying that negotiations were more like a ‘capitulation than a negotiation’.

The starkest language came from vocal backbencher Johnny Mercer, who used an interview with The House magazine to open fire on the leadership, calling the current situation a ‘shit show’.

He said if the party tore itself apart and let Jeremy Corbyn into office it would not be forgiven for a generation and ‘wouldn’t deserve to be’.

The chairwoman of the Treasury Committee Nicky Morgan the party had been put under ‘existential strain’ by Brexit.

She said: “I still believe that we absolutely can come back together after this, but it’s going to have to be because people want to do that, there are still many, many issues which unite us as Conservatives, but yes I think there are friendships and relationships that will never be healed from this in the party.”