Jacob Rees-Mogg embraces Captain Mainwaring as he spins his failed 'coup'
Watch: The Tory Brexiteer tried to play down his failure to get 48 letters.
So much for the hard Brexiteer plot to bring down the prime minister. After a lively press conference last week and excitable briefings to various journalists, Jacob Rees Mogg and his gang of failed saboteurs have still not got the necessary 48 letters.
What went wrong? Last night, we learned that the likes of Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith think that that Theresa May is "engaging constructively" with their radical proposals. Therefore disgruntled Tory MPs might hold on to their letters for a few more days at least.
This morning, the band of failed saboteurs otherwise known as the European Research Group held a press conference to promote a new report about the 'myths' of leaving the customs union. Naturally most journalists were not interested in the report but did want to know what was going on with the failed power-grab.
At first Rees Mogg made a bid to brush off his failure to get 48 letters.
"Patience is a virtue, virtue is a grace et cetera. We shall see whether letters come in due time."
Next he rebuked a reporter for calling his planned power grab a coup and said it was more like a general election:
"It’s a rather silly word... and this type of language, this over-egged language, is rather damaging to political debate because it tries to see things in terms that are not realistic and not true. It is just like a general election in a way, that is a legitimate means of changing leader."
He then acknowledged that he his gang might never hit 48 letters after all. But he insisted that his credibility would in no way be diminished if that was the case.
"Using legitimate means is completely proper and people will then make their decisions. Do 47 want to come with me or not? Now I may find that they don’t. Or that they don’t do it today but they do it when we get the meaningful vote. That is a decision for them.
"In politics you have to set out your stall, you have to say what you believe in and you then see whether people agree with you or not. Fortunately, in a democracy it is not given to insist that people follow you. That is one of the great virtues of our system."
And then tried to laugh off a question about whether his attempt to unseat the PM had been exposed as a ‘Dad's Army’ operation.
"I've always admired Captain Mainwaring."
It would be fair to say that some other Tory MPs are not laughing…