Evelyn Waugh once complained that though the Tories had been in power for years, they had failed to turn the clock back a single minute.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, now seems determined to rectify this oversight – at least for a small corner of Britain.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who emerged as Westminster's answer to Bertie Wooster when it was revealed he had brought his nanny on the campaign trail, has filed an amendment to the Daylight Savings Bill that calls for Somerset time to be set 10 minutes behind the rest of the UK.
The private members' Bill urges the Government to consider turning the country's clocks an hour forward all year round. Mr Rees-Mogg's amendment suggests that his home county might have its own time zone.
The amendment says: "The county of Somerset as defined by the Lieutenants Act 1997 shall revert to the customary time used prior to the Great Western Railway time established in 1840." Mr Rees-Mogg told The Independent: "I think this would be hugely popular in Somerset. They will be marching in the streets."
Before the advent of the railways and train timetables, most English towns ran at a locally agreed time, which was usually set by the clock tower of the nearest church. Railway companies standardised the country's clocks to run at London time in 1840 – and faced fierce opposition from some stubborn elements of the English yeomanry, whose cause Mr Rees-Mogg now seems determined to champion 172 years later.
MPs are not obliged to debate the amendment. There will be those who suspect that Mr Rees-Mogg, known for his pinstripe suits and perhaps anachronistic outlook on matters ranging from parking meters to public schools, is not entirely serious.
"There is not enough daylight in winter anyway and people will only complain," he said. "I hope that the amendment will get people talking about what is a rather silly Bill."
Farmers in Mr Rees-Mogg's constituency were baffled. Brian Mitchard, a butcher from G Mitchard and Sons in Radstock, said that he thought Mr Rees-Mogg's proposals "unworkable, ludicrous" and "a joke".
Campaigners from Lighter Later, who have petitioned MPs for the extension of British Summer Time, branded Mr Rees-Mogg "the court jester".Reuse content