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21st Jan 2019

Jacob Rees-Mogg says he ‘understands’ Jeremy Corbyn attempting to ‘take over as prime minister’

Marc Mayo

The comments come in the wake of the Labour leader refusing to meet May after she refused to rule out a no deal Brexit

Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to use Brexit as a way of ousting Theresa May and becoming prime minister are “not unreasonable”.

In the aftermath of the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement being rejected in parliament by 202 votes to 432, the Labour leader hasn’t joined his SNP, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru counterparts in holding face-to-face talks in Downing Street.

But an unlikely ally has emerged for Corbyn, whose stance has been deemed “not unreasonable” by Tory backbench Brexiteer Rees-Mogg.

He told LBC on Monday that he understood Corbyn’s decision to leave May hanging, claiming he was doing it as an attempt to take over running the country.

“Trying to talk to the leader of the opposition was sensible, however in defence of Jeremy Corbyn, the job of the opposition is to oppose, not to make the life of the government easy,” Rees-Mogg said during a live phone-in.

“And it’s not unreasonable of him to say: ‘well actually no, you’re responsible, you won the election… if you don’t want to do it, if you want me to help you, I’ll take over as prime minister thank you very much.

“So I think Theresa May was right to ask him but he was not unreasonable to refuse – possibly politically naive – but not unreasonable.”

The prime minister continues to come under attack from all sides on the Commons as the Brexit deadline draws closer. Labour MP Yvette Cooper claimed on Monday that May privately wants parliament to do the heavy lifting on preventing no deal for her.

“She knows that she should rule out no deal in the national interest because it would be so damaging,” said Cooper on Monday’s Today programme.

“She’s refusing to do so, and I think she is hoping that parliament will do this for her. That is not leadership.”