The new leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has reportedly set out a list of rules banning his staff from using words such as “hopefully” and demanding that they use imperial measurements only and give all non-titled males the suffix Esq.
According to ITV News, Rees-Mogg sent out the list shortly after his appointment to the role by the new prime minister on Wednesday night.
Among the words and phrases considered unacceptable were: “very”, “due to” and “ongoing”, as well as “equal”, “yourself” and “unacceptable”. Rees-Mogg was also reported to have banned the use of “lot”, “got” and “I am pleased to learn”.
The guidance was drawn up by the North East Somerset MP’s constituency team years ago, but has now been shared with officials in his new office.
In a call for accuracy contained in his list, Rees-Mogg reportedly told staff: “CHECK your work.” Other directions include a call for a double space after full stops and no comma after the word “and”.
Staff should avoid “too many ‘Is’” in their writing, Rees-Mogg is reported to have ordered, and he will neither be “pleased to learn” anything, nor will he “note/understand your concerns”, nor “invest (in schools, etc)”. Moreover, the phrase “no longer fit for purpose” has been deemed no longer fit for purpose.
As chair of the European Research Group – an influential, hard-Brexit Tory backbench grouping – Rees-Mogg has increased his influence in Westminster in recent years.
The official transcript of parliamentary proceedings, Hansard, records more than 700 instances of Rees-Mogg using one or other of the banned words or phrases.
He is an Old Etonian, like the prime minister he serves, and, like the prime minister he serves, has cultivated a reputation for formality and upper-class eccentricity, gaining the nickname the “honourable member for the 18th century”. When standing for the Conservatives for the Central Fife seat in 1997, he took his nanny and his mother’s Mercedes out canvassing.
Rees-Mogg has also used his position of influence to argue against abortion, even in cases of rape, and same-sex marriage.
He has been one of the most prominent backers of a hard Brexit and, last year, it was revealed that a City firm he co-founded had set up an investment fund in Ireland and was warning prospective clients about the financial dangers of a hard Brexit.
Following his appointment by Johnson this week, he is responsible for organising government business in the Commons.
The Commons leader’s office would not comment on the leaked document.