Here is the latest in our series reflecting on the Brexit process with regular BrexitCentral authors and others who have played an important role in our journey out of the European Union. Here are the answers to our questions from Jacob Rees-Mogg, an enthusiastic Brexiteer and now Leader of the House of Commons.
BC: When did you first come to the view that the UK would be better off out of the EU? Did you ever think that the EU could be reformed from within to make membership tolerable for the UK? Tell us how your views developed over time on the issue.
I cannot remember a time when I was enthusiastic about Britain’s membership of the EU or its preceding bodies. However, I did not think there was any prospect of leaving and therefore clung to the pious hope of reform until David Cameron came back with thin gruel from his attempted renegotiation. At that point it was clear that we had to Leave.
BC: What was your most memorable moment during the referendum campaign?
My most memorable moment was when I went to a debate in the Country Landowners Association tent at the Royal Bath and West Show where the chairman gave a long pro-Remain introduction, of which his members took no notice because the majority was pro-Leave. I thought: ‘Put that in your pipe and smoke it.’
BC: Who was the most unlikely ally you campaigned with or shared a platform with during the referendum? Did you strike up any unexpected new friendships across traditional political divides?
I have never found it difficult to have friendships across political divides, so no.
BC: Where were you on referendum night? How did it feel?
I was in TV studios. Between 3am and 4am I was with David Dimbleby and Hilary Benn discussing the results. It became clear we were going to win. I liked the fact that in 1975 David Dimbleby could have been interviewing both our fathers presenting the opposing view from their sons.
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BC: Did you think then that it would take as long as it has for Brexit to actually happen?
No. I thought that everyone would accept the result and did not realise we needed to keep on campaigning. I did not have the prescience of those who set up BrexitCentral.
BC: Were there any moments in these last few years since the referendum when you thought the prize could yet be snatched from us?
Indeed, that is why I voted for Mrs May’s deal on the third go of asking.
I think a number of things have happened which have reshaped the electoral map. These include the Scottish referendum and the realignment of Scottish politics away from the Labour Party and the concentration of Labour in metropolitan areas, which may have been accelerated by Brexit, but was not originated by Brexit.