Jacob Rees-Mogg ramps up feud with Philip Hammond over ‘politically biased’ Treasury forecasts
Jacob Rees-Mogg has escalated his feud with Philip Hammond by suggesting he was responsible for "politically biased" Treasury forecasts.
The prominent backbencher’s comments come after he accused department officials of "fiddling the figures" in leaked Brexit forecasts in a bid to keep Britain in the EU customs union.
His intervention sparked fierce criticism among former high-ranking civil servants and senior Tories - including Home Secretary Amber Rudd - who said the comments were "wrong".
Addressing students at a Press Association event earlier today, Mr Rees-Mogg refused to row back on his attack on civil servants, instead blaming the “politically biased” figures on the Chancellor.
He said: "When you take these models of what happens unless you stay in the customs union, they are all completely dependent on the inputs that you start with, and the inputs that they have started with are ones that lead to the conclusion that you have to stay in the customs union.
"Other economists have used different inputs and looked at different modelling of global trade which says we’ll do extremely well by not being in the customs union."
"And so do I think civil servants are politically biased, well I think the information the Treasury has produced is biased, but the blame must always be with ministers."
Downing Street last night insisted that Britain would not be in any form of customs union with the EU after Brexit.
But Mr Rees-Mogg said Mr Hammond was seeking to "undermine" the Government, echoing his accusation last month that the Chancellor was "freelancing" on Brexit.
"There are concerns that there are some people close to government who are trying to undermine the Government’s own policy," he said.
"It’s now been [made] clear we’re not having the customs union, [it] is a reiteration of policy [that] the only person who seemed to be disagreeing with was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he ought to read up his constitution and think more carefully about what collective responsibility means."
His comments come a day after Gus O’Donnell accused outspoken Brexiteers of "selling snake oil".
The former head of the civil service, who served as Cabinet Secretary under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, added that attacks on Whitehall officials were "completely crazy" and "ridiculous".
Meanwhile former Cabinet Secretary Andrew Turnbull said leading Brexiteers had adopted similar tactics to the “stab in the back” myth used in Nazi Germany.