Tory MP Anna Soubry says Jacob Rees-Mogg is ‘running the country’ not Theresa May

Prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg (Picture: Rex)

A leading Conservative Remainer says Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg is running the country – not prime minister Theresa May.

Anna Soubry said the party’s whipping operation during crucial Brexit votes in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening had been an “appalling spectacle”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, she referred to “these nonsenses of threatening general elections and votes of confidence in the prime minister”.

She added: “I actually said to the deputy chief whip, ‘Bring it on’, because I shall be the first in the queue to give my vote of full confidence in the prime minster.

Conservative Remainer Anna Soubry criticised how Tory MPs were whipped ahead of Brexit votes (Picture: PA)

“Problem is, I don’t think that she’s in charge anymore. I’ve no doubt Jacob Rees-Mogg is running our country.”

Ms Soubry said they had been “hollow and rather ridiculous threats” and that MPs were “frightened of the extremes” within their local associations.


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She said hardline Brexiteers were “ruthless” and well organised while the “pragmatic majority” were loyal to Mrs May.

Ms Soubry made a barnstorming speech in the House of Commons on Monday after Tory Brexiteer Sir Edward Leigh told her: “My honourable friend ain’t no Margaret Thatcher.”

Ms Soubry responded by criticising his “wholly unnecessary and foolish” attack, and said Mrs Thatcher was a “huge champion” of the single market.

On Wednesday, she called for government of national unity to deal with Brexit.

“We simply cannot go on like this,” she said. “People in this country are fed up to the back teeth with Brexit.”

Ms Soubry said Labour was in an “even greater mess” than the Conservatives, with the “old Trotskyists in charge”.

Prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan has been severely tested (Picture: PA)

“I personally would abandon the Labour frontbench and I would reach beyond it and I would encompass Plaid Cymru, the SNP and other sensible, pragmatic people who believe in putting this country’s interests first and foremost,” she added.

Remainers had been prepared to support the Chequers agreement even though it had “huge flaws” to give Mrs May a chance to get on with negotiations, she said.

“Then we had the grotesque spectacle on Monday whereby the government actually whipped its own members of parliament to support amendments deliberately designed to wreck that very pragmatic white paper.

“So, now it is in tatters and they know that.”

The government has been locked in a series of key Brexit battles this week (Picture: PA)

The prime minister avoided a damaging defeat – which could have had major implications for her leadership – by just six votes in the Commons on Tuesday night.

On a night of high drama in Westminster on Tuesday, Mrs May thwarted a rebel Tory move which could have forced her to try to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU by 307 votes to 301, helped by Labour Brexiteers.

But 12 Conservatives broke ranks to back the customs union measure, even though Tory whips told would-be rebels that there would be a confidence vote if it passed – potentially resulting in the collapse of Mrs May’s administration.

Mrs May was defeated on a separate amendment to her flagship Trade Bill, which will require her to seek continued UK participation in the EU’s system for regulation of medicines after Brexit.