Tom Richmond: Brexit obsession is flaw of the Jacob Rees-Mogg duds' army

NO wonder Jacob Rees-Mogg and his Brexiteer plotters have been compared unfavourably to Captain Mainwaring and Dad's Army '“ they've clearly learned nothing from last year's snap election that left Theresa May doomed.

Graeme bandeira's latest cartoon.
Graeme bandeira's latest cartoon.

This is the election that Mrs May called against her will after being persuaded by David Davis, the then Brexit Secretary, about the need to strengthen her position before negotiations over Britain’s departure from the EU.

It was such a flawed strategy that the Tories actually lost their Commons majority because the state of the public services – rather than Brexit – became the defining issue of the campaign.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg has been plotting to topple Theresa May.

And it will be the same again if Mr Rees-Mogg and his motley crew do, in time, muster the 48 MPs that are required to trigger a no confidence vote in Mrs May’s stoic leadership.

Brexit obsessives, they will struggle to convince sufficient Conservative MPs about the merits of a prospective new premier, never mind the country at large, unless they have a prospectus of power which covers the issues that matter to the most important people of all – voters.

This became abundantly clear on a troublesome LNER train journey from London back to Leeds that can only be described as ‘‘Grayling’s revenge’’ for my repeated haranguing in these columns of the failed Transport Secretary.

Yet, while I’ll spare you all the details, it was enlightening to listen to the conversations between passengers last Sunday when Mrs May appeared to be still at the mercy of Mr Rees-Mogg’s malcontents.

Not once was the B-word mentioned as travellers discussed, with increasing exasperation, their concerns about NHS, social care, schools, policing, knife crime and, of course, a desire for the trains to run on time.

Until Mr Rees-Mogg and his European Research Group have a plan of action for these issues, as well as Brexit, the damaging Dad’s Army comparisons will remain – and, in fact, do a disservice to a classic TV comedy.

ONE only has to examine the public utterances and inconsistencies of Simon Clarke, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, to appreciate why the Brexiteers have not gathered – for now – sufficient numbers to unseat Theresa May.

First he submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister following the Chequers deal in July. Then he withdrew it, saying: “Conservative Party civil war is not where we want to be at the moment.”

This week he warns: “If we do not take action now it’s not only going to be hugely damaging to this country.” Make up your mind Mr Clarke.

OF the 24 Tory MPs who say they submitted letters of no confidence in Theresa May, it is significant that only one – John Whittingdale – has previous Cabinet experience and another, Steve Baker, was Brexit Minister before quitting. It strikes me that the rest are malcontents – like the aforementioned Simon Clarke, Philip Davies, Andrea Jenkyns and Martin Vickers from this region – who will never be satisfied.

FURTHER reason why Boris Johnson would be a totally hopeless Prime Minister and negotiator with Europe – the second-hand water cannon he bought from the Germany for £322,000 when Mayor of London to quell rioters were sold for £11,025. Can we dock the money from his salary?

WHY the BBC obsession with Cabinet meetings over-running to the irritation of its political editor Laura Kuenssberg who still thinks she’s more important than everyone else? If successive premiers had not circumvented ministers over issues from the Iraq war to Brexit, trust in politics would not be at such a low ebb.

NO wonder Universal Credit – the Government’s flagship welfare reform – is in such a mess and claimants don’t know where to stand. Amber Rudd is now the sixth Work and Pensions Secretary since March 2016. A revolving door is no way to run such an important department.

THIRSK and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake made a profound point over the reduction in business rates to help struggling high street shops. Welcoming the move, he did warn Parliament that “a structural review” is needed because “online retailers pay a much smaller proportion of their turnover in business rates than retail high street premises — about four times less”.

A Government with an agenda, and purpose, would be signing up Mr Hollinrake to lead this exercise.

GOVERNMENT press officers were left irked by a national newspaper report suggesting that Northern Powerhouse officials intend to hold their Christmas soirée in Mayfair, one of London’s more exclusive districts.

A spokeswoman tells me that the decision was a matter for Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry and his political team. Unsurprisingly, my invitation is missing in the post.

I AGREE with former presenter Libby Purves when she says the BBC now over-promotes its shows to such an extent that a new Doctor Who “is greeted like a Nobel prize announcement” and “forgettable fiction like Bodyguard sparks chin-stroking discussion on Today”. She’s right.

WHEN commuter trains to London were cancelled because engineering work over-ran, it was the third item on the BBC lunchtime news on Monday. When the North is similarly affected, it takes The Yorkshire Post – and others – to highlight the troubles and pressurise the rail industry. Just saying...