Britain Should Sabotage the European Union From Within Over Brexit Delay, U.K. Politician Suggests

Brexit European Union Jacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative member of Parliament, speaks to reporters as he leaves his home on March 28 in London. Mogg called for the U.K. to sabotage the EU from within if Brexit is delayed. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A Conservative member of Parliament in Britain called for his country to sabotage the European Union from within because of the ongoing delay to Brexit.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is the MP for North East Somerset and a prominent campaigner for Britain to exit the EU at the earliest possible opportunity, even if it means leaving with no deal, which many economists say would cause a financial crisis at least in the short term.

"If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU, we should be as difficult as possible," Rees-Mogg wrote on Twitter Friday morning. "We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron's integrationist schemes."

Prime Minister Theresa May has requested from the EU a further extension of the Brexit deadline to June 30 because Parliament cannot agree on how Britain should leave. The EU now must decide whether or not it will grant the extension.

The original deadline was March 29, but this was already extended to April 12. The EU responded by suggesting it could allow a flexible deadline that extended for up to a year, angering some of those who campaigned to leave. It would mean Britain having to take part in the European Parliament elections slated for May.

The EU dismissed Rees-Mogg's comments about what Britain should do if it remains a member over the coming months, seen by his critics as an attempt to goad the EU into rejecting the extension and therefore making a no-deal Brexit likelier.

"This gentleman is not our interlocutor," Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesperson of the European Commission, told reporters in Brussels, where the EU is headquartered, Bloomberg reported. "The principle of sincere cooperation applies, as Prime Minister May herself makes clear in her letter."

May negotiated a deeply unpopular withdrawal agreement with the EU, which was rejected three times by Parliament. However, MPs also failed to agree on any other Brexit scenario except to reject leaving without a deal, the dream scenario for hard-line leavers.

Now, May has called in Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, for talks on a way forward in the hope that a joint agreement will be passed by Parliament.

The Conservatives have only a small majority in the House of Commons and rely on the Democratic Unionist Party, a right-wing, pro-Brexit party from Northern Ireland, to win votes.

But the Conservative Party is divided over Brexit, with many MPs rebelling against the whips, effectively voiding the government's majority.

"It is frustrating that we have not yet brought this process to a successful and orderly conclusion," May wrote in her letter requesting a deadline extension to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, which is comprised of the heads of states of EU members. "The United Kingdom Government remains strongly committed to doing so, and will continue to act as a constructive and responsible Member State of the European Union in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation throughout this unique period."

Britain voted to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum by 52 percent to 48 percent. Many in the pro-Brexit camp are pushing the government and Parliament to make good on the result as soon as possible or risk stoking resentment among the public.

But there are also calls for a second referendum on the specific terms of Brexit, which were unknown at the time of the first vote, amid anger at the way May's government has handled the process and as the reality becomes clearer of what life outside the EU would be like for Britain.