Jacob Rees-Mogg is widely credited with first saying that we may become a “vassal state” to the EU post-Brexit. He did so in the context of transition – putting the point to David Davis in January during a meeting of the Brexit Select Committee.
However, this version of events is incorrect.
The first Westminster politician to make the claim was a Labour one – Barry Gardiner, the party’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade. He did so with reference to post-Brexit membership of the EEA. Here’s what he wrote in the Guardian last July –
“The UK would technically not be a member of the EU, but we would in effect become a vassal state: obliged to pay into the union’s budget while having even less sovereignty than we do now – no longer able to appoint commissioners, sit on the EU council to have a say in how we determine our regulations and laws, or appoint British judges to the ECJ to adjudicate disputes. The 52% would almost certainly consider this a con.”
As we put it back then, challenging Gardiner to eat an American chlorine-washed chicken, “the so-called hardest of so-called hard Brexiteers on the Conservative benches could not put it more vividly”.