Last week I featured a prominent member of the elite class who are determined to drag the UK out of the European Union come hell or high water – Boris Johnson, Prime Minister and protagonist-in-chief of the Leave campaign who has just suspended Parliament for five weeks, which effectively puts the House of Commons’ Brexit scrutiny and debate on the back burner.
But what of his ‘wingman’ Jacob William Rees-Mogg whose reclining beanpole figure on the Commons front bench prompted one MP to describe him as looking like “the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament”. A disdainful act in response to not getting his way on Brexit but which, as Leader of The House of Commons, only served to illustrate his contempt for parliamentary democracy as he well and truly threw his toy soldiers out of the pram.
His first foray in the world of politics came when he stood as the Conservative candidate for Central Fife in the 1997 General Election, where he decided to knock on doors in Leven with his nanny, Veronica Crook, in tow and where he was seen on the campaign trail driving around back streets in his mother’s Mercedes saying at the time, “I don’t think a Bentley (of which his family owned two) is a suitable campaigning car. It was the petrol consumption – six miles to the gallon.”
Suffice to say he was unsuccessful, receiving just nine per cent of the vote, but he refused to accept that his background was an issue stating: “Only one person shouted ‘go back to Cornwall’, which is rather odd as I have no connection with Cornwall.”
However he finally made it to Parliament – when he was elected to serve as MP for North East Somerset in 2010 – where the Eton College-educated Rees-Mogg also chaired the Tory European Research Group, described as a “shadowy faction” of around 35 Tory MPs intent on pulling the UK out of Europe without a deal.
His views on other matters, both global and national, have also courted controversy, such as opposing renewable energy initiatives when he was a signatory to a letter to David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, successfully securing the withdrawal of subsidies and planning rules changes for onshore wind turbines. On climate change, he said that politicians should not decree people’s standard of living “to meet something that is a theory rather than a fact”.
He supports “zero-hours contracts” stating that they benefit employees by providing flexibility and a route into more permanent employment. He was also full of praise when suggesting that food banks fulfil a vital function, arguing that “to have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are”.
Not that he should have any reason to queue up for a cup of soup anytime soon, given that he is married to Helena de Chair, who is set to inherit £45 million from her mother which means, according to Tatler “their combined fortunes could then total as much as £100m-£150 million”. A cohort of Boris Johnson, Rees-Mogg is the quintessential embodiment of the extremely privileged elite who many believe are currently attempting to take an even tighter grip on the reins of the economy to further their own interests at the expense of the general population.
The power struggle that we are currently witnessing at Westminster can only have one winner as words like consensus and compromise have been unceremoniously jettisoned out of the nearest window as each side battles for supremacy – for a battle it certainly is.
As events unfold over the next couple of months, we shall see who emerges as the victor, but one thing is for certain, the unedifying spectacle of some current Westminster politicians playing fast and loose with parliamentary democracy can only further another cause – and one which is much closer to home!