In a speech on Tuesday to mark a year to go until Brexit, the leading Eurosceptic Tory MP will sound the alarm about the Prime Minister’s compromises in the negotiations with Brussels.
And he will savage the EU for a “bullying” approach to the talks.
Mr Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of MPs, is to raise the stakes in the Tory debate over Brexit at a meeting organised by the Leave Means Leave pressure group in London today.
He will warn Mrs May that failure to deliver on the verdict of the 2016 EU referendum would be comparable to the foreign policy fiasco over the Suez Canal that wrecked the late Anthony Eden’s premiership in 1957.
Mr Rees-Mogg is expected to say: “What would that mean for this Nation? If we were not to leave, if we were to find a transition bound us back in?
“Well it would be Suez all over again. It would be the most almighty smash to the national psyche that could be imagined.
“It would be an admission of abject failure, a view of our politicians, of our leaders, of our establishment that we were not fit, that we were too craven, that we were too weak to be able to govern ourselves and that therefore we had to go crawling back to the mighty bastion of power that is Brussels.
“Suez affected the Nation’s view of itself until Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister
“It infused throughout the body politic the view that the best we could do was to manage decline. Margaret Thatcher tried to break away from that but it was such a strong feeling that once she had gone it seeped back again.
“It is still there and the Remainers are part of that group, who do not feel that we are able to do things for ourselves.
“Although countries across the Globe can govern themselves, poor little Blighty cannot. Poor little Blighty must shelter itself from the winds of global competition by hiding behind the protective albeit crumbling walls of Fortress Europe.
“We would be saying, if we reversed this decision, particularly if we did so by subterfuge, by prestidigitation, by legerdemain – we would be saying that once again not only can we not govern ourselves but we are so frightened of our electorate that we dare not tell them that that is what we believe. As with the disaster of Suez it would end up being a national humiliation based on lies.”
Mr Rees-Mogg will also raise concerns about moves to continue free movement rules for EU citizens after Brexit.
He is to say that the open border policy has had a negative impact on Britain’s least well off because they “have found that their jobs have been taken by migrants from the EU”.
By controlling unskilled EU migration, living standards for the poorest in the UK could rise by 15%, the MP will say.
“When it comes to the unlimited flow of unskilled labour from the EU, analysis that has been undertaken is absolutely clear.
“Those on low wages pay little tax and are most likely net recipients from HMRC via tax credits which they often send back to their country of origin and they receive many benefits in kind that are of a higher level than those available in their home country so there is a major subsidy in encouraging people to come to compete with our indigenous communities and this is quantifiable in several different ways – specifically on welfare, recent estimates have found that EU migrants are claiming £4 billion a year in benefits, newcomers in work claim more than £2 billion, whilst those out of work claim around £1.1 billion in tax credits and other benefits,” Mr Rees Mogg is expected to say.
“A further £740 million in child benefits was also claimed.
“This becomes, through the tax credits system, effectively a 20% wage subsidy, so each unskilled EU immigrant costs the taxpayer around £3500 a year. And this has had an effect, of course, on the poorest in our society, who have found that their jobs have been taken by migrants from the EU.
“It would be wrong to criticise these migrants, who are individually extremely admirable people and we should never forget that, particularly those of us who are Conservative.
“To move half way across a continent to a country where you do not speak the language, to work hard to provide for yourself and a better standard of living for your family is a really noble thing to do and we should not forget the individuals in this story.
“But the effect has been to lower wages for the least well off in our own society.
Mr Rees-Mogg will also call for the UK to walk away from negotiations and move to a deal based on World Trade Organisation rules if the EU tries to force the UK to back down on our red lines. He will argue that the UK is more prepared for a ‘no deal’ scenario than the EU.
He will say: “It is worth asking what preparations has the EU made for no deal because if the EU is faced with no deal it is insolvent.
“The EU has no legal ability to borrow, it has to raise its money from the member states that it seeks to spend.
“If it does not have that money it cannot spent it.
“What plans has the EU made to cut expenditure in Romania, in Poland, in the Czech Republic?
“Or what plans has it made to ask the Dutch and the Germans and the French for more money to fund those projects? The answer is none.
“Its commitments are still there but it would not have the funding to pay for them. It will be a quarter of the way through a financial year anyway so it would be a sudden hit for the EU if we left without a deal, without paying any money. So we have great strength in this position, no deal is better than a bad deal for us but it is a disaster for our Continental friends.”
March 25th, 2018: Express