Politics

A protester has been hauled off stage after interrupting a speech by senior Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg to warn about “fascism”.

The former Business Secretary was addressing the National Conservativism conference when a man joined him at the lectern and told the audience: “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re very nice people and I’m sure you are fantastic.

“I would like to draw your attention to a few characteristics of fascism.”

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Climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion (XR) have claimed credit for the disruption.

The man was quickly dragged out of the door by security staff to laughter and jeers from the audience.

Mr Rees-Mogg said Conservatives believed in freedom of speech and that the activist “can have his national loony convention next week and see how many people show up”.

Shortly afterwards, Extinction Rebellion posted on Twitter: “XR disrupts the National Conservatism Conference, calling out the fascist ideologies of senior Cabinet members and MPs.

“This morning, an ordinary person stepped onto the stage and interrupted Jacob Rees-Mogg’s opening speech at the National Conservatism conference.”

The three-day conference opened in London on Monday and will also hear from Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, outspoken Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson and former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost.

Mr Rees-Mogg used his speech to criticise prime minister Rishi Sunak for breaking his promise to complete a “bonfire” of remaining EU-era laws by the end of the year.

Fewer than 600 laws will be revoked under the bill by the end of the year instead of the 4,000 or so pledged – in a move the North East Somerset MP called “pathetically under-ambitious”.

“Rishi Sunak made a specific promise to scrap thousands of EU laws,” he said.

“He’s broken that promise. This is very unfortunate as one of his virtues is his trustworthiness and the surrender to the blob risks exposing the government to ridicule.”

Mr Rees-Mogg also appeared to describe the introduction of voter ID as an attempt at “gerrymandering” that backfired against the Conservatives.

He said the policy, which he defended when a government minister, had made it harder for elderly Tories to vote.

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“Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections,” he said.

“We found the people who didn’t have ID were elderly and they by and large voted Conservative, so we made it hard for our own voters and we upset a system that worked perfectly well.”

He also took aim at the government’s fiscal policy, asking: “How is it that a Conservative government has the highest rates of taxation as a percentage of GDP in 70 years?”

National Conservatism is a global movement which claims that traditional values are being “undermined and overthrown”.

Conservative MP Miriam Cates opened the conference saying that falling birth rates are “the one overarching threat to British conservatism and indeed the whole of western society”.

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