Jacob Rees-Mogg has attacked the Government’s decision to scale back post-Brexit plans to scrap EU laws as “pathetically under-ambitious”.
The former cabinet minister used a speech at the National Conservatism conference on Monday to criticise Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for breaking his promise to complete a “bonfire” of remaining EU-era laws by the end of the year.
The three-day gathering in London will also feature speakers including Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, outspoken Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson and former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost.
Mr Rees-Mogg, whose speech was interrupted early on by a protester warning about “fascism”, said the Government’s “U-turn” over scrapping EU laws was a “defeat of ambition, prosperity and democracy”.
“Rishi Sunak made a specific promise to scrap thousands of EU laws,” the Tory MP for North East Somerset said.
“He’s broken that promise. This is very unfortunate as one of his virtues is his trustworthiness and the surrender to the blob risks exposing the Government to ridicule.”
Brexit-backing Tory MPs were angered by a move to revoke around 600 retained EU laws, rather than the 4,000 pledged.
The Government had originally promised a “sunset” clause on all laws carried over from the trade bloc by the end of 2023 under its Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.
Mr Rees-Mogg said that while the Government “needs to be more ambitious”, it was essential to support it because “the alternative is far worse”.
The loyalist of former prime minister Boris Johnson also appeared to describe the introduction of voter ID as “gerrymandering”.
As a minister, Mr Rees-Mogg defended the introduction of voter IDs in Parliament.
He also railed against high taxes and the “quango state”, condemning the “snooty” House of Lords Appointments Committee for rejecting former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre for a peerage.
Press Association – Sophie Wingate and Dominic McGrath