‘Surrealism!’ Verhofstadt savages Rees-Mogg as he mocks ’50-year’ Brexit benefits claim

Jacob Rees Mogg's new Brexit role pivotal to Boris Johnson

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Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has now been appointed as Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency as part of a Cabinet Office reshuffle overseen by Boris Johnson. Mr Rees-Mogg will be trying to deliver some of the benefits of the UK leaving the European Union. A Downing Street spokesman described his appointment as one to “drive forward the changes we are now able to make now that we’ve left the EU (European Union) delivering on our post-Brexit agenda”.

The responsibility for maximising Brexit opportunities was previously handled by Lord Frost, who unexpectedly quit his role in December in the midst of talks with the EU.

But Brexit-sceptic Mr Verhofstadt has brutally mocked the appointment of Mr Rees-Mogg to his new Brexit role.

The Belgian MEP retweeted an article from July 2018, in which the leading Brexiteer suggested in an interview with Channel 4 News it could take 50 years to judge whether Brexit has been an economic success.

This had just two years after the historic Brexit referendum but at a time when Remainers insisted leaving the EU could lead to a huge downturn.

Mr Verhofstadt tweeted: “Surrealism is tasking a man who said the benefits of Brexit wouldn’t be known for 50 years to deliver them now!”

During the interview in July 2018, Mr Rees-Mogg had been pressed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News about whether he would quit if the “economy does take a hit next year” when Brexit happens.

The Brexiteer insisted the full impact will not be known for “years to come” and hailed Brexit as the “greatest opportunity, economically, for this country”.

The MP indicated the broadcaster had asked a “simple” question about economic success or failure based on a “complex” set of circumstances, before adding: “We will know at some point, of course, we will. But it’s a question of timescale.”

Mr Guru-Murthy asked “So how long have you got?” before Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “We won’t know the full economic consequences for a very long time, we really won’t.”

But the Channel 4 interviewer pressed on: “Of course not, but I mean we’ll have an indication.

“We’ll know if there’s been chaos, we’ll know if there have been job losses.”

Mr Rees-Mogg answered: “The overwhelming opportunity for Brexit is over the next 50 years.”

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The Prime Minister has come under huge pressure from his political rivals and his own Tory MPs as the hugely controversial “partygate” scandal rumbles on.

The latest Cabinet Office reshuffle is seen as Mr Johnson resetting his premiership to turn the tide on the huge crisis.

Chief Whip Mark Spencer was replaced by Chris Heaton-Harris, a close ally of Mr Johnson who has been trying to shore up support among ministers during months of reports about lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

Mr Spencer now becomes the new Leader of the House of Commons, taking over from Mr Rees-Mogg.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “This was about making changes both in the workings of Number 10 and changes to strengthen that relationship between Cabinet, parliament and Number 10.

“I think that’s what we’re seeking to deliver.”

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