We’ve known about Jacob Rees-Mogg’s far-right connections for years. So why do we keep letting him off?

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Tuesday 02 April 2019 15:56 BST
Jacob Rees-Mogg explains why he retweeted 'racist' AfD speech

In August 2013 Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke at a dinner event thrown by the far-right Traditional Britain Group. The group is run by Gregory Lauder-Frost, a well known figure in British far-right politics. Lauder-Frost argues that anyone living in the UK not of what he calls “European stock” should be offered “assisted voluntary repatriation” to their “natural” homeland.

Despite being warned of the nature of the event by the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, Rees-Mogg attended the Traditional Britain Group dinner as their guest of honour. He later insisted he was “shocked” when the politics of his hosts were apparent, admitting: “I feel very silly. This was clearly a mistake ... I wouldn’t want to be caught out in this way again.”

This was not Rees-Mogg’s only encounter with the far right. In 2017 he met with president Trump’s ex-chief of staff Steve Bannon at the Mayfair hotel in London to discuss how conservative movements in the UK and US could keep power.

Bannon is the darling of far right politicians across Europe. He has been feted by Hungary’s antisemitic prime minister Viktor Orban and Italy’s rabidly anti-immigrant deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini. In March 2018 Bannon told a rally of France’s racist Front National (now “Rassemblement National”, the National Rally) that they should wear the label of “racist” and “xenophobe” as a “badge of honour”.

The latest chapter in Rees-Mogg’s engagement with the far right is his retweeting the anti-EU arguments of Alice Weidel, the leader of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD). The AfD has been linked to having racist, Islamophobic, antisemitic and xenophobic politics and is linked to Indentitarian movements in Germany.

Yet Rees-Mogg defends circulating their ideas on social media on the grounds that he thinks “it’s important people know that this is a strand of German thinking”.

Six years on from being the guest of honour at a far-right “banquet” Rees-Mogg is no longer arguing he was “caught out” endorsing the far right, he now argues it expresses “something interesting which is worth watching”.

Rees-Mogg is one of a growing band of politicians who want to rehabilitate harmful politics and restore it to the spectrum of acceptable politics.

I believe he must be condemned, challenged and fought by all who have made the vow “never again!”

Sasha Simic
London N16

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s body language

I learned many years ago the joys of mining body language for insights into a subject’s inner world.

What a story leaps out of the picture of Jacob Rees-Mogg in Will Gore’s piece yesterday! Folded arms, looks of distaste, expressions of boredom, a private conversation behind him... surely he doesn’t need enemies with friends and colleagues like that.

Adrian Murray-Leslie
Barlborough, Derbyshire

There could be a way out

Surely the common-sense solution is a Final Say referendum, using single transferable votes, and including Remain, no-deal Brexit and two or more soft Brexit options.

The will of the people would then be seen to be done, no traitors, no treachery, simply democracy in action that everyone can get behind.

Felicity Pollard
Isle of Mull

Dear Theresa May

I would like to thank you for the hard work you have done and the tireless effort you continue to make to do the best thing for the country. You must be weary of people letting you down.

Please know that there are millions like me who admire you and, whatever the outcome, wish you well.

Jean Bergin

Theresa, please don’t ask for another extension

If Theresa May writes to EU leaders pleading for a further extension, she will place us in an extraordinary position.

Having been promised by our politicians that they would deliver Brexit as mandated, we shall instead be left reliant upon Emmanuel Macron to do us this service.

Where we should have boldly taken our leave of the EU we would find ourselves only hoping that we have provoked leaders sufficiently that they throw us out.

She would be indicating that, for her, “no deal” was never on the table, and so in practice, neither was Brexit.

John Riseley
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

The real reason behind Brexit

As speculation whirls around which of the increasingly numerous and flimsy options MPs might finally – and randomly – opt for, one seems to be gaining traction among the blindly optimistic – that of Norway-style ie Efta membership.

The issue of the free movement that goes 100 per cent hand in hand with this option is almost glossed over by those twittering about it. Why not? Reality is, after all, simply optional these days.

What the optimists seem to forget – and which they might have been reminded of if they had observed the similarities to a Trump crowd reflected in those around Westminster on non-exit day – is that for many hardliners, Brexit was always mainly about xenophobia.

Amanda Baker

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Communism is coming

As a lifelong Labour supporter I regret to say that if Jeremy Corbyn is still at the head of the Labour Party with his communist friends, I will not be putting my cross in the Labour square.

I, for one, do not want to see a communist government in this country. We must remember what happened in China with protesting students; they were driven at by tanks and attacked by the military.

Some younger readers won’t remember the communist government in Hungary which called in Russian troops to quell an uprising. There were dead bodies in the streets; buildings and homes destroyed.

Corbyn, be honest and put yourself forward as the head of the Communist Party and see how many votes you get.

M Kelly

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