💰🔥Old Etonian financier and Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is sometimes seen as the respectable face of Brexit. Impeccably dressed and ever-ready with a Latin quote, he has been dubbed by some “the MP for the 18th century”. But Rees-Mogg is, in fact, part of a 21st-century scandal involving offshore tax havens and association with Bad Boys such as Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon.
Rees-Mogg is a multi-millionaire: he and his wife are expected to have a combined net worth of up to £150 million when she comes into her inheritance. Their property portfolio includes a Mayfair townhouse, a Grade II-listed manor house in Somerset and interests in various other London properties.
Rees-Mogg’s career in finance started at Rothschild’s. In 2007 he co-founded Somerset Capital Management, which initially operated under the wing of Odey Asset Management, the hedge fund set up by Bad Boy Crispin Odey (Odey also part-funded Rees-Mogg’s election campaign).
Somerset Capital Management is managed via subsidiaries in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore. Rees-Mogg has defended the use of tax havens, saying “I do not believe people have any obligation to pay more tax than the law requires.” But as Rees-Mogg might have quipped himself, crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crevit – the love of wealth grows as the wealth itself grows.
His name was one of those to emerge in the Paradise Papers scandal in late 2017, when leaked documents showed he had held more than 50,000 shares in a company based in the British Virgin Islands, Lloyd George Management, and had made $680,000 (£520,000) when it was bought by Canada’s Bank of Montreal in 2011. Rees-Mogg insisted that he had done nothing wrong.
Perhaps Rees-Mogg sees Brexit as an essential way of avoiding planned new EU regulations aimed at governing the behaviour of companies such as his own. He has also enthused about the potential to slash environmental and safety laws after Britain leaves the EU. Regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for Britain, he has argued, saying that the UK could go “a very long way” to cutting EU standards.
In November 2017, Rees-Mogg met with the extreme right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon. Bannon’s sidekick, the former Ukip leadership candidate Raheem Kassam, said that “the discussions focused on how we move forward with winning for the conservative movements on both sides of the pond, how you build movements, on the ground and digitally.” Kassam also noted that “Brexit and the election of President Trump were inextricably linked.”
In January 2018 Rees-Mogg was elected chair of the European Research Group (ERG), an influential backbench group of hard-Brexit Tory MPs. The group made headlines when OpenDemocracy reported that “Senior MPs including Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom and Jacob Rees-Mogg have used their expenses to fund [the ERG]” – which would be in breach of parliamentary rules – and that it was “effectively holding the government hostage over its negotiations with the EU”.
Rees-Mogg has assured the ERG he will “help Theresa May carry out the type of Brexit she originally promised”. He seems to have been referring to May’s speech in July 2016 in which she made the famously meaningless pronouncement: “Brexit means Brexit.” In the same speech, May also said: “Because Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it […] we need a bold new positive vision for the future of our country – a vision of a country that works not for the privileged few, but for every one of us.”
It would be hard to find a group that better exemplifies “the privileged few” than Jacob Rees-Mogg and his fellow Brexit Money Men.
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