Speaking on LBC radio this morning, former Tory minister David Mellor explained that “no one” who had dealt with the EU could “love it”. He said: “A very senior colleague of mine in government once said to me: ‘When did you start disliking the EU?’ And I said ‘when I started going to Brussels.’
“And he said ‘absolutely, what I thought too.’
“No one whose had anything to do with the EU can love it.
“No organisation that’s headed up by Jean-Claude Juncker can be seen as anything other than an organisation largely devoted to making the people who work for it fatter and more complacent.”
Meanwhile, Tory European Research Group chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg set out further details of his call for the UK to be “the most difficult member possible” in the EU if it was “forced to remain in”.
“I don’t think the EU, in its jargon, has behaved towards us with sincere co-operation,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday.
“I don’t think sincere co-operation could possibly include trying to break up the unity of a member state when it leaves the EU, and therefore I think we are no longer obliged to follow sincere co-operation in return.
“When the multi-annual financial framework comes forward, if we are still in, this is our one-in-seven year opportunity to veto the budget and to be really very difficult, and I hope that any British prime minister would take that opportunity.”
Mr Rees-Mogg criticised the Prime Minister’s talks with Jeremy Corbyn, saying there was an “irony, at the very minimum, of saying one week that one thinks Mr Corbyn is dangerous and unfit for office and the next week deciding to cohabit with him”.
“Not both of those statements can be true and I think the Prime Minister risks giving a degree of credibility to Mr Corbyn and undermining the general thrust of the Conservative argument that he is a Marxist who would be dangerous to this nation’s interests,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday.
Mr Rees-Mogg praised Boris Johnson, whose leadership prospects have been boosted by speculation about an alliance with Remain-leaning Cabinet minister Amber Rudd which has been dubbed “Bamber” by Westminster insiders.
“I think very highly of Boris Johnson, who managed to win in London twice in a Labour area – has a great connection with voters.
“He is a clear Eurosceptic but otherwise is very much in the middle of the Conservative Party. He is not particularly a factional character beyond the European issue and therefore I think could unite the party and win an election.”
Mr Rees-Mogg said he also “thought highly of Amber Rudd” who was a person of “first-class capabilities”.
“There will come a time, though we may find this difficult to believe at the moment, when there are other things to talk about than Europe, and at that point we will need all the talents that are arrayed within the Tory party, not just those of Brexiteers.”