In the debate on Tuesday, the standard of speaking was high. As well as Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry, Nick Boles, Liam Fox and David Cameron’s replacement in Witney, Robert Courts, were all excellent. On the whole, the rebels were the more eloquent, as rebels usually are. Their one false note, however, was that of self-pity. There was too much — from Boles, Soubry and (though humorous) Clarke — about how they had suffered for their faith. This exemplified one of the main reasons millions feel alienated from parliament: so many MPs are ‘up themselves’ about a decision made by the people.
Poor Rees-Mogg was much abused for lying prone on the government benches, as if this were a mark of disrespect. Not so. Drawings of the House of Commons in the days before cameras show that MPs did this a great deal. Elongated ones used to put up their feet on the despatch table. If you sit in the Chamber, as the Leader of the House must, for many hours on end, you may well need to shift your position. This is particularly true if you are tall — Rees-Mogg is well over six foot. If there is noise, it helps a tall MP to lie down because then his ear is close to the speakers which are in the back of each bench.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in this week’s magazine, out tomorrow.