Jacob Rees Mogg's new Brexit role pivotal to Boris Johnson
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In his first interview since becoming the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Mr Rees-Mogg said he would become a “loud hailer” for the benefits that flow from cutting ties with Brussels. He said many “big wins” were in the pipeline and the aim was to see “significantly higher” GDP and improved standards of living. If it succeeds he believes the political question over EU membership will be finished once and for all.
“It will be impossible to go back because our economy will be so transformed that firstly nobody would want to and secondly the EU would look at us in horror because we would not be following all their petty rules.”
Mr Rees-Mogg told the Sunday Express that this new job “gives me the opportunity to put into practice what I argued in 2016.
“My feet are being held to the fire on what I have always said politically.”
The Prime Minister created the job to tackle criticism that he had lost focus on delivering on Brexit, favouring issues like climate change instead.
But Mr Rees-Mogg insisted that a lot of work had been going on already in maximising the benefits of Brexit with “big wins” coming shortly.
“There is a lot in the legislative pipeline that will deliver a Brexit dividend whether this is the Procurement Bill, services reform, gene editing. The Bill for freeports has almost completed its passage.
“Much was being done and perhaps people didn’t know how much was being done and part of my role is to be a loud hailer for it.”
After weeks of being under siege over Party-gate in Downing Street, Mr Rees-Mogg also urged his party to stick by the Prime Minister as the man to deliver on Brexit.
“He has the charisma and flare to make the argument in a way that is attractive to people.
“He is so good at cutting through the jargon to get the message through to the electorate.”
Mr Rees-Mogg hopes for “a bonfire of red tape” but will also be looking at how to make regulations work better for businesses and make the UK more attractive for them to have headquarters here.
Even ahead of his appointment he endorsed an Institute of Economic Affairs report which called for a new Brexit trade policy which would allow for “a unilateral recognition of EU rules should continue, even if the EU still declines reciprocity”.
The minister also cited the Procurement Bill as a pivotal “benefit of Brexit” because it will allow smaller businesses to compete with corporations for Government tenders.
He went on: “Our aim should be to see that our GDP growth trend rate can be significantly higher than it currently is.
“If you can achieve that you can see taxes as a percentage of GDP fall because GDP is growing and the tax base can remain static.
“You can see the ability of businesses to come into the UK to increase because it will be a dynamic and effective economy.”
He added: “The challenge is how do we make people’s lives better? How do we improve the standard of living? This is ultimately an economic question and it is about supply side reforms which lead to faster economic growth.
“It is very much really what Margaret Thatcher did in the 1980s but in a different context.”
The minister, who was promoted from his previous role as Leader of the House, will be carrying out a tour of the country to meet members of the public and hear their proposals.
“Government is not the centre of all knowledge and wisdom. Actually there is a much greater wisdom with the British people as a whole.
“That is why I am so keen for the British people to tell me what it is in their daily life that the Government does that makes their life harder. And if I can, I will push to get rid of that.”
Even though he enjoys the “full backing of the Prime Minister” the minister plans to take “a tactful approach” with cabinet ministers who run departments in trying to bring about change.
“I will have to rely on their goodwill rather than thinking I can demand things by right.”
His closest ally is Simon Clarke, the Chief Treasury Secretary who is Rishi Sunak’s deputy.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s appointment is part of a reset of Mr Johnson’s Government and sends a sign that the Prime Minister is focussing again on a more Conservative agenda.
It has come with other appointments of MPs from the right of the party to key jobs.
This includes his three parliamentary private secretaries Sarah Dines, Joy Morrisey and Lia Nici as well as his new head of the policy unit all coming from the rightwing Common Sense Group of MPs set up by former minister Sir John Hayes.
An insider told the Sunday Express: “One thing we all knew was the structure in Number 10 needed a rehaul. An effective operation, with the right people in, was crucial for the boss. It looks like this is starting to happen.
“More importantly, for backbenchers, there is more confidence that the benefits of Brexit will be delivered upon.
“If you look at the reshuffle, former chairman of the European Research Group [Chris Heaton-Harris] is chief whip, Jacob Rees-Mogg has a cabinet position dedicated to Brexit.
“It’s been a Good week for Brexiters.”
The source added: “Of course, the PM has to be in listening mode; all sides will be having their say – this will help heal rifts, but the PM must be guarded against falling back into the liberal traps he has fallen into.
“The real test is, by 2024, will we have governed like Conservatives? There is still plenty we must do. Lefty legislation needs to go, Brexit benefits must be outlined to the public, nanny state policies must be binned, and people must be allowed to live as they see fit.”
Meanwhile, Red wall Tory MP Dehenna Davison has been talking of how Mr Rees-Mogg was an influence on her when she did an internship with him while studying politics at Hull.
Speaking to the Times, she said he was “amazing, supportive and funny”.
“The thing I respect most about Jacob is he has strong, traditional views on things like abortion, but he never tries to force them on anyone else,” she added.
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