The prospects of securing a Brexit deal look positive despite the DUP’s Nigel Dodds criticising the Prime Minister’s “double customs” plan, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.
Speaking on Ridge On Sunday on Sky News, Mr Rees-Mogg said the prospects of a deal look “more positive than they did last week”.
The Commons Leader added that people must wait to see how the DUP respond to the plans “when we know them as fact, not just speculation”.
Mr Rees-Mogg confirmed that a Cabinet briefing will take place at 12.45 this lunchtime to outline the progression of negotiations with the EU, and said more details regarding the proposals will emerge in the coming days.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Well what’s happening is the Government made some proposals to the European Union and these are being considered and negotiations seem to be taking a serious turn and that’s encouraging.
“I think it’s always difficult to put specific odds on things, but it certainly looks a lot more positive this week than it did last week.”
Mr Rees-Mogg continued: “We’ll have to wait and see what the precise details are – naturally in the middle of a negotiation these matters are extremely sensitive as everyone is compromising to some degree and therefore to give negotiations the best chance of succeeding it’s best to be discreet about them.
“I can tell you that the Cabinet will be briefed at 12.45 this afternoon as to how far these negotiations have gone.
“We will see more details emerge over the next few days.”
When pushed on whether Boris Johnson’s latest Brexit proposals could be similar to Theresa May’s plan which he previously called “completely cretinous”, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “We’ll have to find out in a day or two whether I’ll have to eat my words or not – time will tell.
“There’s a line from Churchill saying that he often had to eat his words and he found it to be a very nourishing diet – and that is something that happens in politics.”
Mr Rees-Mogg continued: “But it is ultimately a question of trust about the direction of where we are going.
“I trust Boris Johnson to ensure the relationship the United Kingdom has with the European Union is one where we are not a vassal state.”
Mr Rees-Mogg added that he does not believe that the Prime Minister would do anything to undermine the integrity of the UK.
Pressed on the DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds speaking out against rumours of the details of the Prime Minister’s plan on social media, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “The Prime Minister is Minister of the Union and is deeply and personally committed to ensuring the union is robust and prosperous.
“And I don’t believe the Prime Minister would do anything that undermined the integrity of the UK.”
He added: “We’ve got to see how the DUP respond to things when we know them as fact, not just speculation.
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that the United Kingdom will remain a single customs territory and that Northern Ireland will remain within a UK customs union. He’s been explicit about that.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also suggested that while there is a need for compromise in negotiations, the UK has already been very generous in the Brexit negotiations.
He said: “We’ve already made compromises – if you look at the House of Lords report from 2017 we don’t owe the EU any money if leave without a deal.
“So the £39 billion is not owed under UK, international or EU law and that is a pretty big compromise, to be willing to give £39 billion of British taxpayers’ money to the EU to secure a deal.”
Mr Rees-Mogg continued: “If we’re in control of our law then we would have left the European Union properly.
“The problem with the previous deal was that under the backstop we were potentially never going to be in control of our law and therefore we would have remained a vassal state.”
On the possibility of a small extension to ensure a Brexit deal is achieved, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “If we get the deal and we have a vote possibly next Saturday and that is agreed, getting it through in legislation won’t be that problematic.
“The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear we are leaving on October 31 – this is of great importance.”
Mr Rees-Mogg added: “I think that he (Boris Johnson) is somebody who even the arch euro-sceptics, even a member of the Brexit Party can trust and have confidence in.”