Jacob Rees-Mogg throws Theresa May a lifeline with strong hint he will back her Brexit deal
Jacob Rees-Mogg has dropped his strongest hint yet that he will back the Brexit deal Theresa May brought back from Brussels.
The chair of the hardcore anti-EU European Research Group said he had accepted the Prime Minister “will not deliver a no deal Brexit”.
And he added: “The choice seems to be Mrs May’s deal or no Brexit.”
The admission is a major boost for the Prime Minister - who has been fighting to get the North East Somerset MP on board in the hope he will encourage other Tories to back her deal.
In his Moggcast podcast with ConservativeHome, the North East Somerset MP warned fellow eurosceptics pushing for a harder Brexit that “what we want and what we can deliver is not necessarily the same because of our lack of numbers”.
He added that rather than a singular event, the departure from the EU could be a "process of unravelling which will take time".
He said: “I’ve always thought that no deal is better than Mrs May’s deal, but Mrs May’s deal is better than not leaving at all, so that’s a hierarchy of choice.
“Inevitably, leaving the European Union, even leaving it inadequately and having work to do afterwards, is better than not leaving at all.
“Is this deal worse than not leaving? No definitely not.”
Mr Rees-Mogg said it was a “mistake” for Downing Street prevent a no-deal departure going ahead on the originally planned date of 29 March, but said he accepted the lack of support for a crash-out in Parliament.
He added: “The Prime Minister does not want to leave without a deal, and the Cabinet doesn’t want to leave without a deal and the British parliament doesn’t want to leave without a deal.
“It is therefore very, very difficult to see how to get to leaving without a deal even though that is the law of the land.”
Eurosceptic colleague Michael Fabricant, who has previously voted against the deal, backed Mr Rees-Mogg while also calling for new leadership.
He Tweeted: “This is the dreadful conclusion I came to too - and said so at the ERG.
“A new PM can then negotiate a better and more distanced relationship with the EU after Brexit. (Of course this is the least worst option but the only practical way forward for now.)”
However, Mr Rees-Mogg came under fire from pro-Brexit campaign Leave.EU, which reminded him of his previous condemnation of the deal for "dividing our country" and forcing the UK to become a "slave state" to the European Union.
The comments from Mr Rees-Mogg came after MPs voted to hold a series of symbolic votes on their preferred Brexit options in a major blow for the Government.
The process set for Wednesday afternoon will give MPs the chance to find a consensus on the way forward it can urge ministers to adopt.
MPs are expected to choose a softer form of Brexit than the deal the PM clinched with Brussels - but Mrs May has indicated she could ignore the wishes of the House.