MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was applauded for stating at an Exeter University Conservative Association and Guild approved event on Friday 22 October that he was “proud,” of Britain’s colonial past. This came alongside Rees-Mogg’s decision to not to comment on an audience member’s use of ‘LGBT’ as an insult.
The incident occurred after Rees-Mogg took a series of questions from the audience. When asked about this year’s government report on systematic racism, which found that the UK was not an “institutionally racist country,” Rees-Mogg expressed support for the report, saying, “I think it’s very important to be clear that the report didn’t say there’s no racism in the UK, but that it wasn’t institutional, and I think that’s right.” He celebrated the “progress” that institutions had made over his lifetime as evidence of this.
Rees-Mogg continued his response to this question by stating that he believed it was important to not put people in “pigeon holes,” of race or social status.
‘It’s really useful to have the information… rather than just adopting the left-wing mantra that it’s all about our colonial past, which it isn’t – and anyway of which I’m quite proud.” This comment elicited loud table thumping and applause from the front few rows, where members of EUCA committee were sat.
Another audience member accused Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Conservative Party of allowing, “the total deterioration of democracy under this government,” because of its imposition of national lockdowns during the Coronavirus pandemic. The audience member argued that the government had imposed, “illogical, unfounded, unsupported lockdowns, which have decimated this country, decimated our economy, over what? A flu with a 99.97 per cent survival rate. How is this government conservative?”
Jacob Rees-Mogg responded. “I think those criticisms are really important. I won’t begin to pretend to this audience that I was banging the drum for the restrictions that we imposed. That’s what I said about Dominic Cummings and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was always saying: “do I have to do this? Can I not protect people’s freedoms?” The same audience member also accused the current Conservative Party of “pursuing this LGBT, woke narrative. What are you? Because you’re not Conservative.”
Rees-Mogg commented “It is the first time I’ve ever been accused of following a woke narrative” which elicited laughter from the audience. He failed to respond to the use of LGBT as part of this criticism of his Government. Rees-Mogg has previously controversially stated that he disagrees with same-sex marriage in an ITV interview in 2017, where he said: “I’m a Catholic, I take the teaching of the Catholic Church seriously. Marriage is a sacrament and the view of what marriage is is taken by the Church, not Parliament.”
“It is the first time I’ve ever been accused of following a woke narrative”Jacob Rees-Mogg
When asked about the looming impact of climate change by an audience member, Rees-Mogg stated that he wasn’t a fan of “hair shirt greenery.” “Why? Because voters won’t vote for it, and if they won’t vote for it, it won’t happen. You have to work with the grain of human nature, and I have to be able to say to you as voters that what I propose will improve your standard of living, not make it worse. “I think it’s practical to aim for net zero in 2050, it’s not practical to aim for it tomorrow… We have done extraordinarily well. Since 1990 the UK has reduced emissions by 44 per cent but grown the economy by 78 per cent.
[COP26] is a way of engaging the whole world. And that is important because other parts of the world are less involved than we are. But actually, it’s all going to be about technology, and can we get the right technology so we can improve your standard of living? And I think we are very close to the answer which I think is hydrogen. We have a great lead in some renewable technologies.”
Rees-Mogg is a backbench MP and has been Leader of the House of Commons since 2019. He was previously touted to run for the Conservative Party Leadership in 2018, and in this year he was regularly voted the most popular Conservative MP in monthly surveys of Conservative party members. He is also infamous for comments made about Grenfell Tower victims in 2019, which Grime artist Stormzy said implied, “those who lost their lives weren’t smart enough to escape.”
The Exeter University Conservative Association exists to provide our members, and other interested students, with the opportunity to meet and question influential political figures from across the political spectrum.”Exeter University Conservative Association
A spokesman for the Conservative Association said: “The Exeter University Conservative Association exists to provide our members, and other interested students, with the opportunity to meet and question influential political figures from across the political spectrum. So far this year we have hosted Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ann Widdecombe, and Calvin Robinson – presenting a real range of views from across the Conservative party and beyond. As a broad church association, EUCA neither endorse or refute the views presented by those speaking with us. The same is true of both our members and committee, who had the opinion to challenge the views of our speaker and one another. Our speaker events are open to all members of the university community.”