In Brief

Jacob Rees-Mogg: memorable quotes from the arch-Brexiteer

Leader of the House courts criticism over his ‘arrogant’ posturing during Brexit debate

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s star has risen dramatically in the past few years, going from an idiosyncratic backbench Conservative MP with a peculiarly Victorian take on the English language to one of the nation’s most powerful political figures.

A chaotic week in Parliament has also seen him become one of the country’s most vilified and mocked public figures, due in no small part to his extreme slouching during one of the most important debates about the UK's future.

As MPs debated whether to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday night, Leader of the House of Commons Rees-Mogg took the rather unusual decision to recline almost horizontally across the front bench, prompting the ire of many of his colleagues in the House.

Shouts of “sit up, man!” were heard repeatedly from the opposition benches before Green MP Caroline Lucas accused him of showing “contempt” to parliament and the people of the UK. All of the calls for a more respectful sitting posture were ignored by the Eurosceptic MP, who grinned and adjusted his glasses.

On her Twitter account, Labour MP Anna Turley called Rees-Mogg’s pose “the physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament”, and actor Hugh Laurie described it as “insolent” and “insufferable”.

Meanwhile in The Independent, Emma Burnell compared the image of the Tory MP reclining on the benches to the infamous bacon sandwich photo which so damaged Ed Miliband’s leadership prospects in 2015, claiming that the “picture of Jacob Rees-Mogg lying down on the job will haunt the Tories for decades”.

But despite the flood of internet memes surrounding the incident, the BBC believes that Rees-Mogg’s behaviour “may actually be applauded by those who think Parliament is at odds with the people”.

“The moment may underline the seeming stagnation of Parliament, swamped in debates and protocols, while the country waits for the Brexit crisis to be resolved,” the broadcaster says.

The leader of the House has yet to comment on the uproar surrounding his behaviour, but he has never been short of words in the past. Here are some of his most controversial quotes and views from years gone by:

On his anti-abortion stance:

“Life is sacrosanct and it begins at the point of conception.”

On Donald Trump:

“He’s friends with Mr [Piers] Morgan and Mr Putin, so he keeps very fine company.”

On proposals for a new pro-EU centrist party:

“A new party to be called the ‘Democrats’ whose aim is to overturn democracy? Humpty Dumpty would approve.”

On Winston Churchill:

“Churchill would be delighted that the UK is leaving the EU.”

On the role of the state:

“Basically I want people to be able to get on with their lives without the government bossing them about. I’m all in favour of nannies but not the nanny state.”

On the increased take-up of food banks in the UK:

“I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are.”

On entrepreneurialism:

“How are we going to revive this economy if we do not encourage the small business man, and the tall business man, too?”

On EU judges:

“The requirement not to be rude about judges applies only to judges in this country. It does not apply to judges in the EU, so let me be rude about them. Let me indulge in the floccinaucinihilipilification of EU judges”.

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