Jacob Rees-Mogg believes Matt Hancock was “ill advised” on appearing on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
Asked if it was a mistake that Mr Hancock had entered the Jungle, Mr Rees-Mogg told Mark Dolan on GB News: “Yes, it was and he was ill advised to do it…However I think the treatment he is getting has gone beyond good fun and become deeply unpleasant.
"And it rather worries me that people think it is funny to humiliate somebody in this way.
“I think it is a regrettable society side of our culture and I think it's gone from being, ‘Matt Hancock has gone into the jungle, let's tease him a bit, to something really rather unpleasant.
Jacob Rees-Mogg GB News
“I’m not too comfortable with what is being reported as to the way he's being treated. I can't say I've ever watched the programme, but I've certainly read the newspapers about it. And I think it's just gone too far and has become unpleasant.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Mark Dolan on GB News, also pledged his support for Rishi Sunak.
“I'm going to support Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister because the Conservative Party needs to unite around somebody,” he insisted.
“The Conservative Party has done itself no favours by defenestrating one Prime Minister after another. So, it’s done us a lot of harm and it's not been good for the country, either.“We need a clear, united government so I will support him and let bygones be bygones.”
Asked if he ever would consider voting against the current government, he said: “No, I intend to support this government in the division lobby, the government has my confidence now.
“On anything that relates to confidence in the government, of which the budget is pretty fundamental, I would expect to support the government.”
Asked if he could envisage the return of Boris Johnson, he said: “Well, I was encouraging his return a couple of weeks ago, just a couple of weeks ago.
“It was a mistake to get rid of him in July and I thought it would have been marvellous to have brought him back in late October or early November whenever precisely it was.
Rishi Sunak Victoria Jones
“He is a very interesting figure that it's very rare to have his type of charisma.
“It's something political parties are lucky to get once in a generation. Tony Blair probably had it and Margaret Thatcher had it, an extraordinary visceral connection with the electorate.
“And Boris has that in spades and people stopped their cars to get out to see him. He connects with people in a way that other politicians don’t…”
Asked if he would like to be PM, he said: “No, [I] was very keen to support Boris. My children keep on pointing out that I’m getting on a bit. I used to tell them that the reason my hair was the colour it's now going was because shaving foam got stuck in it. I'm afraid none of my children any longer believe that.”
On the botched mini-Budget he said: “Okay, well, the challenge for people like me, is that we've got to win the argument. And unfortunately, with the mini budget, whether for the short term or for medium term, we lost the argument. It'd be pretty silly to pretend otherwise.
“What we need to recognise is that we tried to get across Conservative policies. But we hadn't got our ducks in a row, and things didn't work.
“We have to learn from that and articulate the policies that as a package will work. That's the real challenge rather than simply saying that people who are now in charge aren't conservative because they've all stood on a conservative manifesto.”
Asked if tax rises were the way to go in the Autumn Statement, he said: “I just read a very interesting report by the IMF in 2018 on how economies succeeded in the first round of austerity, and which economies had done best in coming out of it, and the ones who've done best in coming out of it were the ones that had reduced expenditure but not increased taxation.
“And this is really interesting, because of the long-term effects that increasing taxation has on economic growth. And the key thing in the OBR forecasts, the key variable will be what their growth forecast is.
“If you’re going to get growth a little bit higher, then debt to GDP begins to come down and that must be the overall objective. If you put taxes up, you risk stalling the economy so debt to GDP actually goes up, it risks making things worse rather than better.
“So, I would encourage considerable caution about tax rises, and I hope that so far what we've heard has been kite-flying to try and frighten the horses a bit so that when it's announced everyone's heaves a sigh of relief and says, oh, well, thank heavens. It's been a bit of fiscal drag, rather than all the great terrors that are being put forward in newspapers at the moment.”
On the Northern Ireland protocol, he said: “The key is that the European Court of Justice is not involved in deciding what goes on in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. It is no longer an outpost of the European empire and therefore it would be quite wrong for it [to be] continued to be subject to control by the European Court of Justice, that is fundamental.
“It is part of the United Kingdom and therefore the flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be free and there is a bill passing through Parliament that does that.
“So, if there is no agreement, then that bill can complete its passage and we can do it anyway. We are, as you pointed out earlier, a sovereign nation.”
He said: “We’re the EU’s biggest trading partner. We have a very large deficit with the European Union. So, the cost to the European Union of not trading with the UK would be very significant too - trade wars don't help anybody. I'm very against trade wars. I don't think we should indulge in one.
“If the EU decided to have one under the TCA, it has to be proportionate to the offence that they feel has taken place they couldn't under the agreement they've made, I mean, they could break their agreements, which they have in the past, but [we] assume they would stick to the agreement they made.
“They couldn't have a generalised trade war on changes to Northern Ireland.”
On the progress of Brexit, he said: “Well, the fundamental thing is that we now determine our own government. And that is so important. And then we can make choices and we can make choices based on the democratic will of the British people.
“There are lots of little things that are happening. So, we had a bill passing through Parliament, the House of Commons recently on gene editing, which is going to be an improvement in agricultural processes for the UK that the EU won't have.
“We've got the retained EU law bill, 2,500 near enough pieces of EU legislation that we won't be able to change and have our own rules for. That's a great opportunity to free our power markets, make the UK more efficient, and take the dead hand of costly regulation off business.”