THE reaction of Jacob Rees-Mogg to the latest Brexit developments characterises the political – and economic – impasse on both sides of the English Channel over Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Yet, as Theresa May requested another short extension to Article 50 as belated cross-party talks continue with Labour, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, suggested even longer to take the heat out of the exchanges.
He has proposed a ‘flextension’ – another new word to add to the Brexit lexicon – in which he proposes a year-long delay with the proviso that the UK can leave the EU as soon as Parliament agrees a deal.
And Mr Rees-Mogg’s reaction? The prominent Brexiteer suggested that Britain retaliate to any long extension by using its continued membership to block moves towards closer EU integration.
All such bluntness will serve to do is alienate the EU – all 27 member states have to agree to President Tusk’s olive branch – at a time when Parliament is deadlocked over the country’s future.
In case Mr Rees-Mogg, his party lost its overall majority in the 2016 election and his fellow backbench MPs have effectively taken control of the business of the House of Commons to ensure Britain does not crash out of the EU.
Having scuppered Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement because it did not fully conform to the ideological demands of the Brexit wing of the Tory party, he should be working with others to achieve the best deal possible in the circumstances rather than prolonging this political confrontation.