When Conservative Home Editor (and former Tory MP) Paul Goodman asked Rees-Mogg, on his podcast for Conservative Home The MoggCast, whether he was disturbed by Boris Johnson’s “lack of willingness to dot the Is and cross the Ts”, Rees-Mogg emphasised Boris Johnson’s honesty. Not once but four times:
“I think what you want to know is your Prime Minister is an honest man. The Prime Minister is unquestionably an honest man. Do we want to know the Prime Minister is a leading bureaucrat? Well, no – then we’d still be in the EU and he could be European president. But we don’t want that, we want an honest man as Prime Minister and Boris Johnson is an honest man.”
The same comment applies here as did to Nadhim Zahawi’s defence of the Prime Minister’s honesty on Radio Five Live. This website documents scores of lies, broken promises and misleading statements made by the Prime Minister, many on the floor of the House of Commons. Rees Mogg’s claim that Boris Johnson had brought honesty to politics was the opposite of the truth. As a serving minister who wished to remain in the government, he may have felt that he had no choice but to do grave injury to his own reputation for integrity and record his belief that Johnson was honest. Alternatively, he may genuinely have believed what he was saying, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.
As leader of the Commons, Rees-Mogg has sat alongside Boris Johnson on the front bench and heard him mislead and lie to MPs on numerous occasions during Prime Minister’s questions. We cannot enter Rees-Mogg’s mind and state with certainty that he was lying when he told Conservative Home that Boris Johnson was “unquestionably an honest man.” Rees-Mogg may have genuinely believed this to be the case. Rees-Mogg’s comments do however illustrate the wider problem of having a persistent and proven liar as Prime Minister: Boris Johnson contaminates all around him.