Extinction Rebellion disrupts national conservatism conference
Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned that Sir Keir Starmer and Labour are “trying to fix” the electoral system in their favour and that Tories would be “fruit loons” if they try to replace Rishi Sunak.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk after addressing the National Conservative conference in Westminster, the former Business Secretary warned that Starmer poses “a much bigger threat” to the Tories than many believe.
His words came after Labour announced over the weekend that it intends to extend the right to vote in general elections to EU citizens who are not British subjects.
This follows a previous plan announced by Labour to extend the vote to 16-year-olds, a move which has already happened in Scotland for Holyrood elections.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Labour are clearly trying to fix elections. They don’t think they can win an election fairly.
“Next they will be talking about proportional representation (PR).”
The prospect of PR being brought in has been a concern for many Conservatives with the threat of a coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems.
This means that a Tory majority in the future or a majority for any party would be almost impossible.
But Mr Rees-Mogg insisted that if it was to be introduced there would need to be a referendum to allow for such significant constitutional change.
He told Express.co.uk: “Any change in the voting system warrants a referendum, it would hugely change the criteria for an election. The precedent was set in 2011.”
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Earlier during his speech Mr Rees-Mogg was targetted by a leftwing Extinction Rebellion activist.
But he later repeated his appeal which he first made at the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) conference on Saturday, for Conservatives not to ditch Mr Sunak despite anger over last year’s coup against Boris Johnson.
Mr Rees-Mogg told Express.co.uk: “People weren’t happy about what happened last year.
“There were a good number of people who thought it was wrong that somebody who won a mandate from the British people should be forced out by a coup within the Parliamentary party. I thought it was wrong.
He added: “That feeling of dissatisfaction hasn’t gone away but I think there is a realisation within the party – a grown up attitude – that we are in the business of winning elections and if we are to win the next election we must keep Rishi Sunak as our leader.
And he warned: “Anything else [other than Sunak as leader] would be fruit loon territory.
“Every day we see new ideas from Starmer about what he would do.
“That should focus Tory minds – Keir Starmer is much worse than Rishi Sunak and we should support from the Prime Minister.”
However, he also warned Mr Sunak’s government that he would continue to press on areas of policy disagreement including rolling back on commitments to make the most of Brexit opportunities.
He said: “[Keeping Sunak as leader] doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss policy and hold him to account.
“That is why I spoke so strongly on the retained EU law bill because that was a specific promise and I don’t think politicians should make promises they break lightly.”
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