JACOB Rees-Mogg embarrassed himself in the Commons earlier today when he incorrectly identified where Alistair Carmichael lives in an attack on the MP.
The Leader of the House was taking questions on MPs’ concerns over returning to the Parliament too quickly during the coronavirus crisis.
Long-time Orkney and Shetland MP was given two minutes to ask Rees-Mogg why MPs needed to go back to Westminster next month – a particular concern for him, since he lives hundreds of miles north of London in Orkney with his wife and sons.
However Rees-Mogg incorrectly accused Carmichael of speaking “from his eyrie in the Shetland islands” when he criticised the MP’s worries.
Kicking off his question, Carmichael reminded the Tory MP there have now been more than 35,000 Covid-19 deaths in the UK, and said: “Today the Government’s response to that is to insist that members of Parliament should undertake non-essential journeys, in my case nearly the length of this country, to stay in second homes. Something which when done by leading government advisers led to their resignation. If ever there was a case of do as I say and not as I do, then this is it.
He went on to say he understands the hybrid Parliament is not the same as being in the Commons, but said if it’s a choice between a stilted digital version and putting members, their families and staff at risk then “that is no choice at all”.
“It should be safe for all members, not just those who live within driving distance of Westminster.”
Responding, Rees-Mogg said he was sorry Carmichael “doesn’t think that proper scrutiny of the Government is an essential task in a democracy”.
He went on: “I think this is an extraordinary position for a former member of the government to take and a leading figure, if the Liberal party has leading figures, but a leading figure in the Liberal party to take.”
“The democratic accountability is fundamental to how our system works. The right honourable gentleman from his eyrie in the Shetland islands tells us that a remote system doesn’t work well enough. And then he says we should nonetheless continue with it. I think we have a duty of members of Parliament to return to doing our work thoroughly and properly and effectively.”
Rees-Mogg is pushing for MPs to come back to Westminster at the start of June despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, accusing those who are reluctant to go back as trying to “stop the Government getting things done”.
He agrees MPs’ staff and Parliamentary workers can work from home, but expects members who are not currently shielding to attend the Commons in person.
SNP MP Carol Monaghan has said it is “almost impossible” to go 10-metres in the Parliament without needing to touch a door handle and has put pressure on the Government to explain how they will be kept safe if they return in a matter of weeks.