JACOB Rees-Mogg has lavished praise on Nigel Farage and claimed Brexiteers “owe him a great debt” – but warned Tories not to vote for him or they’ll put Jeremy Corbyn in No10.
Firing an early election campaign salvo the Cabinet minister urged Brexiteers to think “very carefully” before voting for the Brexit party.
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He said a vote for the Brexit party in the looming General Election is “a vote, effectively, for Jeremy Corbyn”.
The leading Brexiteer also offered an olive branch to Mr Farage just days after No10 dismissed his offer of an electoral pact and branded him “not a fit and proper person”.
Mr Rees-Mogg told a Telegraph Live event in central London last night that Brexiteers “owe him a great debt” for his long-standing campaign against the EU.
The praise was seen as an attempt to encourage Brexiteers to come back to the Conservatives after huge swathes of Tory voters backed Mr Farage’s resurgent party at the European elections in May.
And Mr Rees-Mogg said the issue was personal for him because his sister Annunziata was elected a Brexit Party MEP.
He said the Brexit party’s objectives were now aligned with the Government’s Brexit position now Boris Johnson is PM.
The Leader of the Commons said: “What do the Brexit party want? One thing and that is Brexit. We now have a Conservative leader who shares their attachment to their importance of that one issue.
I absolutely know conservative activists that voted for the Brexit party in swathes in the May election. 72 per cent of Conservative voters voted for the Brexit party. Why? Because they felt let down and we hadn’t delivered Brexit.
“I absolutely know conservative activists that voted for the Brexit party in swathes in the May election. 72 per cent of Conservative voters voted for the Brexit party. Why? Because they felt let down and we hadn’t delivered Brexit.
“That’s why we must deliver Brexit,” he added. “Uniting us is done by delivering not by back room stitch ups. Deliver Brexit, we all come back together.
“We win and yes, the campaigning efforts of Brexiteers will be invaluable. I want my sister to come back to the Conservative Party. I signed her up to it when she was a five year old.”
At the same event Mr Rees-Mogg said the PM is close to offering the expelled Tory Remainer rebels back into the party.
He suggested they would be let back in if they vote for the Government’s Queen’s Speech next month.
The PM withdrew the Tory whip from the 21 rebels when they backed the Benn Bill to delay Brexit beyond October 31 if a deal hasn’t passed by then – barring them from standing for the party at the next election so effectively sacking them as Conservative MPs.
It is human to err, it is divine to forgive and the Prime Minister is very close to being divine I think.
Sam Gyimah has since joined the Lib Dems but Mr Rees-Mogg said there was a way back for the other 20, who include Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames and two former Chancellors.
Asked if they would be offered a way back into the party, Mr Rees-Mogg told a Telegraph event last night: “It is human to err, it is divine to forgive and the Prime Minister is very close to being divine I think.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also confirmed the Government was looking at ways to get around the Benn Act that forces the PM to seek another Brexit extension if he fails to win a Commons majority for a deal.
The Commons Leader said the rebel law was “not the most elegant” piece of legislation to pass through the Commons.
He admitted he regrets the pictures of him slouching on the frontbench during those debates earlier this month because it distracted from the debate. But he joked: “I was simply sitting comfortably” and insisted he was “awake through the whole thing”.
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Mr Rees-Mogg also insisted he was “very, very confident” that Mr Johnson would win a deal that was better than Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.
He said he only backed her deal at the third time of asking in March because “a dinner of bile” was better than no dinner at all.
Addressing another former Tory PM, Mr Rees-Mogg offered a back-handed compliment to David Cameron by saying he will go down as one of the “greatest Prime Ministers” because he “freed us from the shackles” of the EU.
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