Brexit Hardliner Rees-Mogg Attacks Hammond in Escalating WarBy
Tory lawmaker accuses chancellor of overseeing pro-EU plot
Anti-EU Conservatives furious that analysis was conducted
The war within Theresa May’s Conservative Party intensified as Brexit hardliner Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond of overseeing a plot to keep the U.K. inside the European Union.
Lawmakers who want maximum distance from the EU are furious about a leaked government analysis showing that this would damage the economy and Rees-Mogg has emerged as their champion. Their anger is not simply at the leak, but at the fact that the analysis was done at all.
On Thursday, Rees-Mogg -- a popular figure among the grassroots who has grown more outspoken on the direction of Brexit -- suggested that the figures must have been deliberately skewed. Brexit Minister Steve Baker had to apologize to Parliament on Friday for having wrongly said he’d been told that.
Hours later, Rees-Mogg shifted the focus of his attack, no longer saying that the numbers were false but instead questioning why they had been produced, and how word of them had got out.
“Who commissioned these?” he asked on Twitter. “The conclusion must be either the Chancellor or his officials are deliberately trying to frustrate Brexit. Ultimately, ministers must take responsibility.”
A spokesman for the Treasury said in response: “Both Treasury ministers and officials are working hard to deliver the best Brexit deal for Britain. The prime minister and the chancellor have said repeatedly that we will be leaving both the single market and the customs union. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.”
Economic analysis has long been a sensitive area for supporters of Brexit. Ahead of the 2016 referendum, the Treasury published analysis of various scenarios if Britain left the bloc, all of them suggesting economic damage. One of the leading advocates of leaving the EU, Michael Gove, said that the public had “had enough of experts.”