UCL students interrogate Jacob Rees-Mogg on Brexit, Maintenance Grants and Trump at an event organised by the UCLU Conservative Society.
On Tuesday evening, hundreds of students attended the eagerly anticipated talk starring the backbench ‘filibustering’ conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The MP, known for being a prominent Eurosceptic, started his talk with a commentary on the Supreme Court’s Brexit Ruling that had only occurred several hours prior. He stated that this was the “least bad defeat” for the government and that, ultimately, he believed that Article 50 would be triggered by the end of March. He argued that there were a number of rulings that did go in the government’s favour, such as the issue surrounding devolved power. The court ruled that the parliament in Edinburgh did not have to be consulted, as the ‘Sewel Convention’ is not legally binding.
His talk and responses to the questions that followed, were riddled with a number of quips and jokes that seemed to please the audience. These included proposing a “Margaret Thatcher Day” and labelling a few Liberal Democrats as “suicidal”, before joking that “one shouldn’t mock the afflicted”. Another popular comment was made in reference to opinions of politicians from other political parties, stating that he “liked Ed Balls before it was fashionable”.
However, it wouldn’t be a successful political event without a heated exchange. One student asked why he voted to scrap higher education maintenance grants, to which Rees-Mogg replied; “I thought it was a waste of public money … I don’t believe that it is the job of the state to give handouts to everybody.”
Other questions led the event down a more philosophical path with one student, citing Hegel, asking why Rees-Mogg thought that this increase in nationalist sentiment was not just the world on a “‘pendulum’”. The politician’s response was that whilst the national political community could allow for an entity such as the European Union in the future it does not allow for it in the current circumstances.
Inevitably, the discussion led to the topic of Donald Trump. Rees-Mogg proclaimed that the relationship between Trump and Putin would not be “all roses for too long”. However, he believed that America should work with the Russians to tackle ISIS and not fund ‘moderate’ terrorists.
The event ended leaving many questions unanswered, however, there is no denying the ground that the event covered; Brexit, Trump, devolution, Ed Balls, Syria, maintenance grants, Hegel and much more.
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