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Rees-Mogg cites corn laws row to urge ‘collective responsibility’ on Brexit

The North East Somerset MP quotes a speech from 19th century to get his point across.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has said Cabinet ministers must take collective responsibility over Brexit, citing a row over corn laws in the 19th century.

The eccentric backbencher also said any senior minister thinking about a leadership challenge “would be doing his own chances a great deal of damage” by using differing views over Brexit to move against Prime Minister Theresa May.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about Cabinet splits, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think we’ve got to remember the important point of collective responsibility here.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said any senior minister thinking about a leadership challenge would be doing his own chances a great deal of damage (PA Archive)

“You will know (Lord) Melbourne’s comment – ‘Now, is it to lower the price of corn, or isn’t it? It is not much matter which we say, but mind we must all say the same.’

“The British constitution does not work without collective responsibility.

“There has to be and there is one Government position and that needs to be implemented.”

Lord Melbourne was prime minister when he made the comments to his Cabinet in 1841, over plans to impose tariffs on corn from overseas.

Leading Brexiteer Mr Rees-Mogg went on to say that Tory MPs and the country wanted Mrs May to carry on as Prime Minister.

Rees-Mogg said the country wants Theresa May to continue as Prime Minister (PA Wire)

“I can only think in the Cabinet that there are a group of loyal and devoted people who are getting on with their job, as they ought to be,” he said.

“We’re just speculating theoretically, in case there was anybody who might be thinking about this.

“And that person, if he or she happens to be listening, must realise that he would be doing his own chances a great deal of damage.”

Mr Rees-Mogg added it was “rather surprising and gratifying how loyal so many of them have been at sticking to the Lancaster House speech, and how quiet some of them have been”.

The North East Somerset MP also said the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over the UK must end as soon as Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.


From Belfast Telegraph