Boris Johnson ‘gave Jacob Rees-Mogg carte blanche’ to frustrate Rishi Sunak over Brexit

Jacob Rees Mogg

Jacob Rees Mogg

Boris Johnson has given Jacob Rees-Mogg ‘carte blanche’ to make life difficult for Rishi Sunak and the Treasury over Brexit, his former No 10 communications chief has claimed.

Guto Harri says the former prime minister was warned Mr Sunak, his then-chancellor, had ‘gone native’ to the Treasury amid growing frustrations over the lack of changes to legislation despite being freed found in Great Britain to move away from Brussels.

Mr Rees-Mogg became Mr Johnson’s Minister for Brexit Opportunities in February 2022 and quickly set out plans to scrap or reform all EU legacy laws by the end of 2023.

“Kick Everything Massively”

In the latest episode of his LBC Unprecedented podcast, Mr Harri said: “He took the job with enthusiasm, immediately warming to his task, and he warned the Prime Minister that on Brexit he believed the government in had gotten to the point where he was deliberately trying to keep the UK in what he called the EU’s ‘lunar orbit’.

“He warned that the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, had gone indigenous. Boris asked him to give everything a massive kick. Jacob Rees-Mogg then warned that he should walk on big toes – “actually, little toes,” he added condescendingly with a small dig at Rishi Sunak’s waist.

“In fact, Boris, after a chuckle, gave him carte blanche to be a pain in the ass for the Treasury and for Rishi Sunak. His words, quite simply, were ‘go for it’, and he did, starting with the EU Reform Bill.

While Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak supported Britain’s exit from the European Union, their differences over Europe resurfaced earlier this year with the adoption of the Windsor framework.

‘Establishment appalled by Brexit’

Mr Johnson and Mr Rees-Mogg were both among 22 Tory MPs to vote against a key part of Mr Sunak’s revised deal. Mr Rees-Mogg also slammed Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, after she dropped her pledge for a bonfire of EU laws.

Instead, Ms Badenoch released a list of 600 rules that will be scrapped, insisting: “I’m definitely not an arsonist, I’m a conservative.”

Elsewhere in the episode, Mr Harri claimed Mr Johnson ‘faced’ the King at a Commonwealth summit last June – a story denied by sources close to the former Prime Minister – after the King was reported in June last year to have privately described the asylum plan as “appalling”.

“For Boris, the attitude of the future king was further proof that the British establishment was fundamentally appalled by Brexit and embarrassed by the attitude of the working masses who voted for him,” he added.

“He frequently attacked this vision of the establishment as he saw it in the arts, the city, the civil service and the media, complaining once that the Financial Times hated Britain and that their journalists would prefer us to be ruled by what he once called “a junta of Belgian banknote collectors”.

The ex-Prime Minister distances himself

Mr Harri said a “fairly frank exchange” had taken place between the two men in Kigali and said: “I don’t think relations [between them] never fully recovered. At the time, their meeting was described as “good old chin”.

Despite his personal opposition to Brexit, the former spin doctor insisted that critics of the Rwandan draft had missed the point by brandishing a “horrific and haunting image of machete genocide”.

Instead, he said it “now works like a Swiss watch” and hailed the country as clean, functional and safe.

Recalling Mr Johnson’s frustration at the lack of progress in tackling illegal immigration, despite border control being a central theme of the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, Mr Harri said the commitment to regain control “has been mocked mercilessly” by a record number of small boat arrivals. .

“Boris grew increasingly impatient, until he explained it last year. ‘If you eat an elephant,’ he said, ‘you have to start with the first bite.’

A spokesperson for Mr Johnson said: ‘Boris has had no role in this podcast and does not acknowledge any of its content.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then get a year for just $9 with our exclusive US offer.

Leave a Comment