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Monday 2 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# uk cabinet
Jacob Rees-Mogg addresses proroguing parliament in his first speech as Leader of the Commons
Rees-Mogg has just given his first statement in the House of Commons as a member of the British government.

Boris Johnson becomes PM PA Wire / PA Images Jacob Rees Mogg arrives for a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

UK PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has appointed Jacob Rees Mogg as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council.

He’s just spoken for the first time as a member of the government in the UK parliament – and answered questions about proroguing parliament. Johnson has hinted before that he would be in favour of suspending parliament in order to pass through a no-deal Brexit, which MPs have voted strongly against before.

Rees-Mogg has been the leader of the arch-Brexiteer faction of Conservatives, the European Research Group (ERG), who were partially responsible for May’s resignation. The group of Tory rebels voted against Theresa May’s government repeatedly, which ultimately lead to a stalemate crisis in the British parliament.

He’s now Leader of the House of Commons, taking over from Andrea Leadsom. The role involves setting the UK government’s agenda in the House of Commons for the day – meaning they choose the legislation that is to be debated and voted on.

Rees-Mogg was appointed to the Cabinet role last night; he was told the news first by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. “You’re better informed than I am, I don’t know anything,” is how he responded when he was told.

First on his agenda

As he rose to give the Business Statement, an MP shouted “resign”, to which Rees-Mogg responded “it’s a bit early…”

Labour MP Valerie Vaz welcomed him to the role, and asked him whether he could rule out proroguing parliament, as well as what else would appear on his agenda.

In his first statement to the House, Rees-Mogg said that the issue about prorogation “was marvelous”.

“The honourable lady asked for a new session and said when would this session end, and then asked me that we wouldn’t prorogue – well we can’t have both, because we can’t get a new session without proroguing.”

“Though my right honourable friend the Prime Minister views the issue of prorogation as an archaic mechanism, and does not wish to see archaic mechanisms used,” Rees-Mogg said to the response of laughter from MPs.

Jacob Rees Mogg UK parliament UK parliament

As I am now bound by collective responsibility that is now also my view. 

MP Angela Eagle, who’s a former shadow leader, told Rees-Mogg that he’s to be “the voice of parliament in the Cabinet rather than just the voice of Cabinet in this place” and asked him to make a clearer statement against a “chaotic” prorogation. He responded:

I take that part of my role extremely seriously. I have a somewhat romantic view of the Commons… However, this House passed into law the Withdrawal Act and the Article 50 Act and we only speak of you by legislation, we do not speak of you by mere motion. Mere motion cannot and must not overturn statute law.
Because if that were to happen, we would not have a proper functioning representative democracy, we would have an erratic, changeable and irregular system of government.

An ardent Boris backer MP Ian Duncan Smith said that Rees-Mogg would give a “modulated and moderate tones to these debates”.

“But one thing is for certain Mr Speaker, is that this place in business questions will now be an absolute must to have a seat.”

People have said that the debates between Rees-Mogg and the Speaker of the House John Bercow will be a spectacle in the next term of parliament. 

About Rees-Mogg

Having served as an MP since 2012, Rees-Mogg has gathered attention as a Victorian era-esque politician through the manner in which he speaks and his deeply conservative views.

Under Cameron’s government, he opposed his party on issues like same-sex marriage.

In February 2012, Rees-Mogg used the word “floccinaucinihilipilification” – meaning “the habit of considering as worthless” -  which was noted as the longest word then uttered on the floor of the House of Commons.

His sister is an MEP for the Brexit Party – the Tory party’s newest election rivals.

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