In 2013, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg attended a formal dinner, where he was the guest speaker. It proved controversial, and five years on he has issued his regret for his “mistake”. So why now?
It’s all about timing. And it’s getting serious.
The Traditional Britain Group (TBG) is a relatively unknown organisation of the conservative far right.
According to anti-racism group Hope Not Hate, speakers at the TBG’s 2017 annual conference included failed UKIP leadership candidate Anne Marie Waters, and Martin Sellner – the head of Austrian Generation Identity (or Identitäre Bewegung Österreich – site under construction).
The latter organisation is part of a Europe-wide anti-migrant movement called ‘Identitarians’, whose roots trace to France’s ‘generation identitaire’ and then to Austria and Germany. In 2017, under the banner Defend Europe, they notoriously hired a ship to patrol the Mediterranean – not to aid refugees, but to disrupt their rescue. However, as The Canary reported, they failed in this endeavour. And their ship – the C-Star – ran out of fuel, thanks to a port blockade by anarchists; and so, embarrassingly, had to be rescued by a ship whose operations they were trying to disrupt.
In ITV‘s Exposure programme Undercover – Inside Britain’s New Far Right, the compère at the 2017 TBG conference was heard to suggest that there are “10 million aliens in this country who are ‘producing children all the time’” and referenced the TBG’s policy of seeking “voluntary repatriation of aliens to their natural homelands”. (The TBG’s response to the ITV programme is here.)
Other interesting speakers
White nationalist Richard Spencer was a guest speaker at the TBG’s 2013 annual conference, and his convoluted speech ended with:
We, too, should compose a new Declaration—’We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created unequal.’
Oh, and the guest speaker for the TBG’s 2013 annual dinner was none other than Rees-Mogg. (A video of his speech was removed from YouTube on 2 Feburary 2018, the day after the University of the West of England debacle.)
Who are the Traditional Britain Group?
The TBG was founded in 2001 and its patron was General Sir Walter Walker (deceased). Major Alexander Greenwood gave an interesting account of a failed conspiracy by Walker, Lord Mountbatten and others to overthrow the Labour government under Harold Wilson. Walker had even “prepared a sort of speech, which the Queen might read out on the BBC that asked the people to stand behind the armed forces as there was a breakdown of law and order and the government could not keep the unions in control”.
On its website, the TBG lays out its 21 core beliefs:
These ‘policies’ would not be that much removed from, say, a manifesto of a far-right, pro-Brexit clique of the Conservative Party.
Error of judgement
On 30 January 2018, Rees-Mogg articulated his ‘regret’ for speaking at the TBG dinner:
I deeply regret going to that [Traditional Britain] dinner. It was a mistake.
He could hardly do otherwise. TBG vice-president Gregory Lauder-Frost is reported by an undercover Hope not Hate researcher as saying that all non-whites should be deported to their “natural homelands”. He also reportedly referred to Baroness Lawrence as a “n*****”.
Rees-Mogg and the “Dream Team”
But Rees-Mogg ‘disassociated‘ himself from the TBG back in 2013. So why has he thought it necessary to bring the matter up again?
Perhaps it has something to do with the speculation that he could be Britain’s next Chancellor of the Exchequer as part of a triumvirate “dream team”:
It’s on. ST report is multiple sourced and specific. If May goes for “a” customs union she’s toast. If not, Britain’s economy is toast. pic.twitter.com/yC3WmKKmT3
— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) February 4, 2018
But his personal background might also prove a hindrance. Rees-Mogg is married to Helena de Chair, daughter of Somerset de Chair and Lady Juliet Tadgell. The Rees-Moggs live in Gournay Court and have a potential fortune worth an estimated £100m to £150m. Nor can it be helpful that Rees-Mogg was caught up in the Paradise Papers scandal.
And then there are his policy views:
A lot of people are talking about Jacob Rees Mogg. As an MP – there's only one thing worth talking about, and that's his politics….this picture is far from pretty. pic.twitter.com/IbgZ8TS3nz
— EL4C (@EL4JC) February 4, 2018
And that Rees-Mogg even contemplated accepting an invitation as main speaker at the TBG event speaks volumes about his political nous, let alone his character.
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Featured image via Wikimedia
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