Rees-Mogg evokes spirit of Thatcher as he dismisses talk of Brexit extension
By Richard Wheeler
Jacob Rees-Mogg evoked the spirit of Margaret Thatcher as he dismissed suggestions of a Brexit extension, telling MPs: “No, no, no.”
The Commons Leader said the UK Government remains committed to the UK fully leaving the EU by the end of December, insisting such a move is in the best interests of everyone.
He then looked to former prime minister Baroness Thatcher’s “no, no, no” speech, which was delivered in 1990 amid calls for greater central control in Europe.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove later insisted there is “ample time” for the UK and EU to reach an agreement on trade matters, arguing Germany’s forthcoming presidency of the EU will bring the “leadership” required.
Asked to confirm the Government’s plan, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Ensuring we leave the transition period successfully in full by the end of this year is one of the Government’s and, even more importantly, the British people’s highest priorities.”
“An extension to the transition period would be neither in the UK’s nor the European Union’s interests.”
“Both parties want and need to conclude a deal this year to complete the transition period.”
“An extension to the transition period will bind us into future EU legislation without us having any say in designing it, but still having to foot the bill to payments to the EU budget.”
“We must be able to design our rules, it’s in our best interests, without the constraints of EU regulation.”
He added: “To quote Margaret Thatcher – will we have an extension? No, no, no.”
Speaking during a separate debate, Mr Gove told MPs: “The detailed work that has been undertaken by both sides should not be set aside or diminished.”
“All that is required is political will, imagination and flexibility.”
“I believe certainly with the advent of the German presidency of the European Union on July 1 that we will see the leadership required in order to guarantee that we secure the agreement we need.”
But SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry urged Mr Gove to “swallow his pride” and seek an extension to the transition period.
She said: “The deadline at the end of this month is a very real deadline because after the end of this month it won’t be possible to extend under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, and no other plausible route to an extension has been put forward.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Alistair Carmichael said, despite the Government’s public commitments, food produced to a lower standard, like chlorinated chicken, could end up on British supermarket shelves.
He said: “Now in fact we hear that as a consequence of the so-called dual tariff process it is quite possible we will see such products being imported to this country.”
But Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt said: “Trust the people.”
“The British people are full of common sense, they value rights, they value animal welfare.”
“We should trust the consumer on food standards and there are massive opportunities for our farmers for rest-of-world trade.”
DUP MP Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) urged the Government to reconsider the Northern Ireland protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement.
He added: “The point of the Northern Ireland protocol is this.”
“It is the backdoor by which the EU is going to continue to undermine the sovereignty of this Parliament.”