A Conservative MP has claimed that Jacob Rees-Mogg is running the country. She also said the only way forward is to form a government of national unity.
Anna Soubry, MP for Broxtowe, made the claim on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on 18 July. She was discussing the 17 July parliamentary vote on the customs bill. The government narrowly saw off an amendment from pro-EU Conservative MPs. It aimed to keep Britain in the customs union after Brexit if no free-trade deal was agreed. The amendment was defeated by 307 to 301.
Whips threatening general elections
an appalling spectacle I’m afraid to say. I know they have to do their job, and they’re doing it in the most difficult of times, but, you know, these nonsenses of threatening general elections and votes of confidence in the prime minister
Jacob Rees-Mogg is running the country
She made no bones about where she thinks the problem lies:
The problem is, I don’t think that [Theresa May is] in charge any more. I’ve no doubt Jacob Rees-Mogg is running our country.
Soubry went on to say of Rees-Mogg and those around him:
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They are ruthless, they are organised, and all that matters is their version of Brexit, for which there is no majority, because everybody forgets that last June we lost the general election, 33 Conservative members of parliament lost their seats. There is no mandate for this.
Government of national unity
Soubry went on to echo Conservative MP Nicholas Soames’s call for a government of national unity – that is, a coalition government including all parties.
Asked by Mishal Husain if she thinks Labour would go for that, Soubry dismissed the Labour front bench, saying it has “the old Trotskyists in charge”. However, she said that behind the front bench sits an “eminently sensible bunch”, including Labour MPs Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie.
Abandon the Labour front bench
I personally would abandon the Labour front bench, and I would reach beyond it, and I would encompass the Plaid Cymru, the SNP, and other sensible, pragmatic people who believe in putting this country’s interests first and foremost.
Not a progressive MP
It should be remembered, however, that Soubry has generally voted with the government on Brexit. And her suggestion that a government of national unity is possible simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, as various Twitter users pointed out:
Anna Soubry hasn’t just mostly voted for the Tory Brexit position, she’s voted to slash disability and in-work benefits, cut taxes on the rich, privatise the NHS and Royal Mail, for the bedroom tax, and trebling fees.
If you think she’s progressive, by definition you’re not.
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) July 16, 2018
— Hajo Meyer's Violin (@WarmongerHodges) July 18, 2018
If you are quoting Anna Soubry and you are supposedly 'Labour' you are in frigging trouble, she's a champion of welfare cuts to the poor.
— Lisa Mckenzie (@redrumlisa) July 17, 2018
Soubry’s interview is extraordinary. We have a Conservative MP openly saying that the prime minister is no longer in charge, and that the only way forward is a government of national unity. It’s a sign of how Brexit is not only extremely damaging for Britain, but for the Conservatives in government. They have only themselves to blame.
You can listen to the full interview (in three parts) here:
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