Jacob Rees-Mogg: I am not acting like Russia over customs union row

Posted On: 
5th May 2018

Jacob Rees-Mogg has hit back at claims by a former Cabinet minister that the pro-Brexit campaign group he chairs is “acting like Russia” over the customs union.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is chairman of the European Research Group.
PA Images

Justine Greening claimed the European Research Group had the power to veto any proposals by Theresa May that it does not like.

Her comments followed the row over what kind of customs deal the UK should agree with Brussels after it quits the EU.

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Ms Greening, who quit as Education Secretary earlier this year, told Sky News: “I think what we can't have is a group of MPs who behave a little bit like Russia does on the Security Council - vetoing things that they don't like.

"We have got to go forward on Brexit as a country together. That will mean give and take and people need to understand that, whatever wing of my party they are on, and whatever elements of the Leave/Remain debate they are on.

"I'm afraid no one is going to quite get their perfect outcome.”

She added: "I think it's time for the moderates in the party like myself to work with the Prime Minister on a sensible approach to the customs policy and a broader package and then make sure this is something we can get through Parliament.”

But Mr Rees-Mogg told the same channel: “I have no authority to veto anything. I'm a backbench Tory MP.

“All I've been doing - and other members of the European Research Group have been doing - is encouraging the Government to stick to the promises it has made and the Prime Minister Theresa May has made very clear in her various speeches, whether it's the Lancaster House, Florence or Mansion House speech.

"So we are very consistent with government policy, we are supporting the Government implementing its policy in the face of a lot of opposition from other sources, particularly at the moment the House of Lords."

Meanwhile, Gavin Williamson is coming under pressure to back Theresa May’s preferred “customs partnership” with Brussels, it has been claimed.

According to The Guardian, the Defence Secretary will be urged to help break the Cabinet deadlock over the issue.

Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Liam Fox are opposed to the plan, preferring instead the so-called “maximum facilitation” option, which would rely on technological solutions to maintain frictionless trade.

A Whitehall source told The Guardian: “They’ll call (Gavin) in and try to promise him something; they’ll ask him what his price is.”