Jacob Rees-Mogg invited to strip naked for Brexit debate with remainer academic

'I am completely comfortable with my own body,' says economist Dr Victoria Bateman 

Jon Sharman
Friday 08 February 2019 13:16
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Jacob Rees-Mogg has been challenged to a naked Brexit debate by an academic who believes leaving the European Union is akin to the story of the “emperor’s new clothes”.

The UK has “sold itself a project that cannot possibly deliver on what it promised”, according to Dr Victoria Bateman, who invited the Tory backbencher to “get to the roots of this issue” in a nude face-off.

In the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale, con men convince a vain emperor they have created fine new clothes for him from thread that appears invisible to stupid people or those unfit to lead. He cannot see them but pretends he can, while his subjects and courtiers do likewise. A child eventually points out that he is naked.

Dr Bateman, a Cambridge University academic, had the words ”Brexit leaves Britain naked” written across her body as she was interviewed while nude on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I have myself written thousands of words looking at why Brexit is bad for Britain, but I thought it would be useful to reduce all of those words down, condense all of those words down to one powerful message," she told presenter John Humphrys.

She added: “Brexit is the emperor’s new clothes ... Britain has sold itself a project that cannot possibly deliver on what it promised. Britain faces many, many problems right now from housing to the NHS, and the European Union is not the cause of those problems.”

Mr Rees-Mogg, an ardent Brexiteer, is a prominent member of the Conservative Party faction pushing for a hard Brexit.

Dr Bateman batted aside a suggestion she was merely an exhibitionist.

She said: “I am completely comfortable with my own body, I view women’s bodies as one of the big battlegrounds that we face today and actually by engaging with society about women’s bodies, one of the things it shows is the way in which people are quick to judge women purely based on their bodies.

“For thousands of years men have controlled what women can do with their bodies, and women’s bodies have been seen as something purely existing for sex and for babies. So what is wrong with a modern-day woman taking control of her body and using it to give voice to what is the most depressing political subject in Britain right now?”

Mr Humphrys’ co-presenter Nick Robinson noted at the end of the interview that he had “strategically placed” his computer screen “so I have only been listening to what was being said”.

Additional reporting by PA

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