Proving that history repeats itself, today’s release of papers from the National Archive reveals the Prime Minister of the day “in full gloat” over defeating a thorn in the Cabinet’s side named Rees-Mogg, as the Conservatives squabbled over Europe.
It was in 1993 that William Rees-Mogg, a former editor of The Times and the father of the MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, sought a judicial review into the Government’s plan to ratify the Maastricht Treaty, the agreement which led to the creation of the euro and which had already split Conservative MPs.
The archived files show Mr Major’s delight when told the judges had ruled against Lord Rees-Mogg. Informed that the Foreign Office was “exercising restraint” in the hope that critics would “abandon their expensive and pointless exercise”, Mr Major replied: “A full gloat is merited.”
The files also show that as the economy struggled, Mr Major sought inspiration from the unlikely source of the British Fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley.
He requested details of the policies for economic regeneration advocated in the 1920s and 1930s by Mosley and by Winston Churchill when he was Chancellor. They included an emergency pensions scheme to encourage early retirement, releasing jobs for others
Mr Major’s response to the paper is not recorded and there is no evidence it having influenced his plans.