Jacob Rees-Mogg by Rowan Tallant

Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC: A different grade of blockhead

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The Jacob Rees-Mogg Show LBC, 6pm, Fridays, for as long as Article 50 lasts

LBC is Britain’s biggest Brexit station. You can fall asleep to Mary from Exeter saying “Just get on with it. They should just get on with it” and wake fitfully through the night to multiplying echoes of the mantra.

Then Nick Ferrari comes in at 7am with the big Brexit breakfast, James O’Brien does some anti-Brexit soulsearching and shoegazing (balance) at ten and the cycle is under way again.

It’s soundhog day, night and day, on and on and on until the fudge is set. Long live Article 50, they cheer in the LBC boardroom, and it’s a great listen for the view from the far side.

LBC don’t go in much for celebs. But, like Have I Got News For You, they have a knack for showcasing rightwing peabrains wobbling on the brink of the chute to the dumper.

You could ignore the Farage show when they signed him up, because he’s an obnoxious blockhead with beef stew and dumplings for brains. But Jacob Rees-Mogg is a different grade of blockhead. He’s no longer in the hunt for supremacy but he and the ERG, the exceptionally regressive gits, retain a pernicious influence over the tortuous progress towards whatever is going to happen, or not.

Letting them have the influence is like allowing the innocuous stranger who delivers your telly to get drunk on your sofa and switch the channels for the rest of your life, but there’s no overestimating the Tory party’s stupidity.

Anyway, LBC have given Jacko a show. But who wants this? Rees-Mogg is absolutely unappealing. His delivery is flat. His elaborate manner is pointless – Will Self with the vocabulary, humour and IQ expelled – and his standpoint is an obstinate, one-note whine.

Like a latterday anti-Peel, Rees-Mogg broadcasts cosily from his home. And like late-stage John Peel, he warms the aching hearts of a needy, self-selecting audience, the only ones that would dream of listening. He’s talking to the congregation and there’s no reach beyond.

In his home, a deceptively gentle fire fluttered in a fireplace the size of Preston bus station (largest in Europe, they used to say). A hint of a corner of a lavishly upholstered armchair poked into the shot to reinforce the impression of detached luxury. You can see it in the video below. And you could imagine all the callers-in were sitting similarly. 

The first bunch of questioners were more like stage prompts, urging Jakey to plump up his upholstery and feel good about it. His trite responses were awful. He said the backstop was a phantom problem. Perhaps people were hoping Trump will come along and if he can’t build his border (surely wall?) in Mexico he’ll build it in Ireland.

Matthew in Warrington said, “I completely agree with everything you’re saying. Europe must be petrified of us leaving … it will be the fall of the European Union.”

It became so one-sided that Jake said he’d like a few fast deliveries, employing a crusty cricketing metaphor – modern-shaped people would think he was expecting something from Amazon. But it fitted with the weird world he inhabits, also featuring ‘continentals’, interchangeable Marxists and socialists, and callers-in with Christian names. Yes. When did you last hear that one?

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Rosanna in Sunningdale came on and argued with him, for quite a long time, about the WTO and whether we’d still be able to count our own onions or something. It was pretty arcane. “So you admit that we won’t be sovereign,” said Rosanna. We will be, said Jake, who was developing a method: say the caller has made a good point, summarily disagree, and leave them at home to stew in a lavishly upholstered armchair. A bit like his approach to actual politics.

Robert in Tunbridge asked why May had not invited Ukip leader Gerard Batten to the cross-talks party. “Ukip are polling at around six per cent,” he said.

Then the air went blank for a bit.

Hello? Said Robert.

“… discussion, and since Nigel Farage left them they’ve become a very marginal force,” said Jacko, who’d been momentarily frozen out. So, accidentally or not, we’ll never know what he mainly thought of Gerard and the shock troops of marginal fascism.

Robert also wondered, what if there’s an election? Tories won’t vote for a Marxist, said Jakey boy. They’ll stay at home, though. It’s a danger. Apparently that’s how Blair won in 1997. Yes. Actually, you can see that’s what happened.

Then the tone changed. Milan from Chiswick came on. Said everything would be catastrophic. No control of aviation, or over transfer of radioactive material, no certainty over the status of EU citizens here or vice versa. The ERG standpoint was completely and utterly bonkers.

Jake didn’t agree. Southampton’s all computerised, you see. Sorry to say, but you’re simply wrong. Then he began to realise – and said – that people who shared his views seemed to have dried up! He hoped he hadn’t put them off.

Bob in Oxford blamed the devastation of the industrial North on Thatcher, Blair and Cameron. JRM blamed the EU: protectionism discouraging competitive productivity.

Alex in Watford asked if Jake and his pals had really been drinking fizz that night to celebrate the May deal defeat. Jake said it was just a meeting with drinks. A small tincture. Sparkling French wine. Continental stuff.

Nick Ferrari: Balance on the streets of Dagenham

Then Ruth, the disembodied star of the show, tweeted to say: “Your party are so far removed from the reality that people live with in the UK – whatever happens with Brexit, your children won’t go hungry and will be fed and and warm. You are a shambles and have never acknowledged the 48 per cent.”

So Ruth has been ruthless, said JRM – and at least he’d read it out, but you felt the steam had gone out of his boiler. He argued with a free-range farmer about funding for a while, but his fitful passion was depleted. He didn’t convince the farmer. But who can convince a farmer about anything?

Jake concluded he’d been far too successful in encouraging people who don’t agree with him to ring in. But he didn’t accept their forecasts. And thank you so much! Long live Article 50.

Illustration: Jacob Rees-Mogg by Rowan Tallant

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