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When Jacob Rees-Mogg went fishing in Arbroath – in a Savile Row suit

Jacob Rees-Mogg was sent to 'love bomb' Scotland before the country went to the polls in 2014.
Jacob Rees-Mogg was sent to 'love bomb' Scotland before the country went to the polls in 2014.

Jacob Rees-Mogg might have to dust off his fishing rod after Nicola Sturgeon fired the starting gun on another independence referendum.

The Old Etonian was sent to ‘love-bomb Scotland’ and save the union back in 2014 but found himself cast adrift in Arbroath when he attempted to hook in voters.

Mr Rees-Mogg went fishing for cod in a Savile Row suit and expensive shoes during his charm offensive to persuade voters to stick to the status quo.

The Tory MP also chatted to undecided voters in Dundee and urged them to “stay because they are wanted and needed”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2014
Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2014 when he embarked on a campaign to save the union.

Mr Rees-Mogg arrived with a Channel 4 crew for a feature which was broadcast in June 2014 and turned into cannon fodder after finding the wrong audience.

He was always going to struggle in the SNP stronghold of Dundee while the Declaration of Arbroath has become the foundation stone of modern Scottish nationalism.

Of course Mr Rees-Mogg has previous for finding himself on the wrong side of the tracks and getting into trouble while on the campaign trail in Scotland!

He nearly found himself in a few boxing matches while door-stepping voters after being chosen as the prospective Tory candidate for Central Fife in January 1997.

He memorably spent the election campaign accompanied by his nanny and trawling the largely working class constituency in his mother’s Mercedes Benz.

Conservative candidate Jacob Rees-Mogg canvasses support on a housing estate in Leven in 1997.
Conservative candidate Jacob Rees-Mogg canvasses support on a housing estate in Leven in 1997.

Mr Rees-Mogg went canvassing in a pin-stripe suit round the doors in the Broom estate in Leven as he allegedly accused people on benefits as being the scourge of the earth.

Mr Rees-Mogg was followed on his campaign trail by journalist Jim White whose Sunday newspaper article sparked outrage amongst locals and councillors.

He was saved from being beaten up by Labour candidate Henry McLeish!

Rees-Mogg ended up in a field of cows

Mr Rees-Mogg was older and wiser when he returned to Scotland in 2014 with the message of love and harmony for undecided voters.

He visited Arbroath Abbey before ending up in a field of cows where he remarked that he had always felt “that cattle are essentially Conservative”.

Former journalist Ralph Barnett was the deckhand on the fishing boat which then left Arbroath Harbour with Mr Rees-Mogg and the Channel 4 crew.

Jacob Rees-Mogg went fishing for votes off the coast of Arbroath in 2014.

“I guess C4 made the booking after some genius came up with idea of bringing Jacob Rees-Mogg to love-bomb Scotland,” he said.

“Brothers and former commercial fishermen Alex and Jim Smith then operated two boats out of Arbroath for sea angling and sight-seeing trips and any other marine services work that came their way.

“I was working with them after leaving the newspaper business and the first I knew about it was a call from Alex to get the Ultimate Predator catamaran ready for a trip with a camera crew. Trips like this were unusual but we’d also had The One Show and Springwatch teams out at sea. There was Alex, Jim and myself on the trip with Rees-Mogg and producer Tim Bouverie and his camera/sound crew.

“And no, I have never seen anyone fishing off Arbroath in a suit and nice shoes!”

The Tory MP was ‘comedy dynamite’

Ralph said he was probably “the oddest passenger to go out on a trip from Arbroath”.

“Whether it’s mostly an act, which I tend to think, he is certainly a strange one,” he said.

“I think he was slightly taken off his guard when he found out the scruffy, hairy deckhand was, in fact, a reasonably articulate ex-journalist!

“I’m not sure he actually believed he could sway the undecided, but it made for a decent and colourful news piece starring a man who may or may not realise he’s comedy dynamite!

“He is a very odd sort of man, with his often rather distant and emotionless character, and at times he genuinely does seem to have arrived from a different era, or perhaps a different planet.”

Ralph was a committed yes voter back in 2014 and retained his stance despite the “emotional argument” from Mr Rees-Mogg on the fishing boat.

“It hasn’t surprised me that Rees-Mogg has reached his current position,” he said.

“He certainly appeals to a significant proportion of Tory members. I don’t see him as a future PM, but stranger things have happened. I would hope that, if he was foolish enough to think he could influence any future independence referendum by visiting Scotland, he would be warmly welcomed as people like him are a great advert for all that is wrong with the UK and Westminster.”

Cutting ties was like losing a limb

Mr Rees-Mogg believed that the heart of the debate back in 2014 was emotional rather than economic and was asked would it would do to the UK if Scotland left?

Jacob Rees-Mogg is the leader of the House of Commons.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is the leader of the House of Commons.

“I think it will leave the remains of the United Kingdom as a rather sad, rump country, cut off from its entirety – it’s like having an amputation.” he said.

“We would be a lesser place without Scotland.

“The place of the UK in the world would be reduced.

“But of course, what one thinks about one’s country, is ultimately not in pounds, shillings and pence, it is ultimately the feeling of nationhood.”

With that he packed up his rod to head back to England and there were no Fisherman’s Blues for J-R-M when Scotland voted against independence in September.

More like this:

When Jacob Rees-Mogg was almost beaten up in Fife in 1997

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