Saturday, December 4

EU slaps down Rees Mogg



Brussels has slapped down Jacob-Rees Mogg after the leading Brexiteer suggested the UK should wilfully cause chaos at the EU institutions if Brexit was delayed.

A spokesperson for the European Commission suggested that the Tory MP was essentially irrelevant and not involved in negotiations.

This gentleman is not our interlocutor and I would say then that the principle of sincere cooperation does apply, as prime minister May herself makes clear in her letter, the spokesperson told reporters in Brussels.

I would also say that this is a hypothetical question because it supposes, or presupposed an extension, which is yet to be seen by our leaders.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, also piled in. Seizing on Mr Mogg’s comments, he said: For those in the EU who may be tempted to further extend the Brexit saga, I can only say, be careful what you wish for.

Various senior EU figures, including Emmanuel Macron, have said any further extension of Article 50 would require a justification, which could be time to hold a general election, second referendum, or a political process in the UK to reach a majority.

The prime minister’s team is currently locked in talks with Labour in an attempt to bring about a cross party consensus in Westminster.

Mr Rees-Mogg, a leading figure in the eurosceptic ERG group of Tory MPs, had said on Friday morning that if a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible.

He suggested: We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.

Theresa May has requested yet another delay to the Brexit date, which will be considered by the 27 remaining presidents and prime ministers at a special meeting in the Belgian capital on Wednesday.

It is understood that EU officials are considering offering Britain a one-year extension until the end of March 2020, with the ability to cut it short if the UK ratifies the withdrawal agreement by then.