Steerpike

Watch: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s unlikely tribute to Jeremy Corbyn

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As the House of Commons rises for a premature Easter recess, coronavirus continues to dominate all parliamentary business. However, today also marks Jeremy Corbyn's final day in parliament as Labour leader – he put in his last Prime Minister's Questions opposition performance this lunchtime. 

While many in Corbyn's own party won't be sad to see him go, Jacob Rees-Mogg appears to take a different view. The Leader of the House gave an unlikely tribute to the departing Labour leader:

'I perhaps have a particular admiration for him which may surprise him. When I was first elected to parliament, there was a distinguished figure who sat at the far end of the opposition benches – was in parliament the whole time, spoke very regularly and was a very very committed parliamentarian.

And then he became leader of his party – as a new MP I sat on the far side of my own benches observing affairs and though I do not have the level of ambition of honourable gentleman, I too ended up on the frontbenches so it seems that those corners are good ones to sit in.

But there is a principled point behind this if I may add Mr Speaker, that those of us who sit in those far reaches of the House are often very independent minded and have a great commitment to public service which the right honourable gentleman unquestionably has and strong principles about how this country may be better governed. It is no surprise to anyone that the principles held by the honourable gentleman and by me are different but they are both committed to ensuring the good government of this country. 

And I think the model he has shown of how a backbench member may make an enormous contribution over many years and may then lead his party with distinction is one that should be remembered. Principles in politics are fundamental to how we do what we do and how we achieve it.'

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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