A member of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has insisted the Queen was “in no way misled” over the decision to suspend Parliament.
The UK's Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg recalled travelling with Her Majesty’s hairdresser from the airport in Aberdeen to Balmoral before seeking approval from the Queen to prorogue Parliament for five weeks until October 14.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing appeals on two separate challenges in the English and Scottish courts over the prorogation of Parliament, which produced different outcomes.
At the High Court in London, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and two other judges rejected a challenge against the Prime Minister’s prorogation move by campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller.
But in Scotland, a cross-party group of MPs and peers won a ruling from the Inner House of the Court of Session that Mr Johnson’s prorogation decision was unlawful because it was “motivated by the improper purpose of stymieing Parliament”.
Mr Rees-Mogg, asked when the plot was first hatched to send him to visit the Queen, told a Telegraph event: “There was no plot, there was a prorogation.
“We don’t plot, governments make decisions.
“We went up with British Airways, the three relevant ministers – me, the Leader of the House of Lords and the Government Chief Whip.
“And we had a fantastic journey from Aberdeen airport to Balmoral because we travelled with the Queen’s hairdresser – I hope it’s not too indiscreet to tell you that, who was absolutely charming and full of fascinating stories, which I can’t tell you.”
Mr Rees-Mogg was asked if he worried he was a proxy for misleading the Queen over prorogation.
He replied: “Oh what nonsense, no, absolute nonsense.
“I mustn’t be dragged into this because of the legal case but Her Majesty was in no way misled.”
Mr Rees-Mogg said Mr Johnson has been clear in wanting a “different” Brexit deal.
He went on: “I’m very, very confident the Prime Minister will deliver a deal that is fundamentally different if he can deliver before October 31. That is the question.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also said the Government has to “listen very carefully to what the DUP say”.
Earlier, Mr Rees-Mogg labelled Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage a “very distinguished political figure and an important contributor” to what has happened in the UK.
He added Mr Farage is a “significant British statesman” but would not be drawn on whether he should receive a knighthood or a peerage.
Mr Rees-Mogg was also asked if there was a way back for the 21 MPs who lost the Tory whip earlier this month.
He replied: “I think that it is human to err, it is divine to forgive and the Prime Minister is very close to being divine I think.”
Mr Rees-Mogg noted there are “many good points” of outgoing Commons Speaker John Bercow, including his role in championing backbench MPs.
He added: “I think precedent is of overwhelming importance in how Parliament works and therefore overturning precedent and expressing his own views has been a mistake, so I think we need to look at his service as Speaker in the round and not just on the bits that we disagree with.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also expressed regret at his decision to recline on the front bench while listening to a key Brexit debate, noting it was a “distraction”.
He came under fire for how he held himself on the front bench, adopting a position he previously took on several occasions while a backbencher.
Mr Rees-Mogg said he was “simply sitting comfortably”, adding: “I do accept it was a mistake.”
- Press Association