Jacob Rees-Mogg, who wears suits that look as though his tailor is trying to drown him, is really turning out to be the least attractive adornment to the Johnson administration. He was foolish to invoke the name of George Soros in the current debate about people making money out of Brexit. It’s said that some people associated with Boris Johnson and Brexit have a large financial vested interest in seeing no-deal Brexit succeed, because it would crash the pound, which they have, in effect, betted against.

The suggestion is that the government is being influenced in its actions, and Johnson’s leadership campaign was supported by people who stand to make vast sums out of a no-deal Brexit. This is something that the former chancellor, Philip Hammond, has raised, and his concerns were echoed in the House of Commons by the shadow leader, Valerie Vaz. Rees-Mogg’s response is that Soros is “one of the major funders, allegedly, of the Remain campaign, the sort of Remoaner funder-in-chief … who made a billion pounds when sterling crashed out of the exchange rate mechanism, which is five times as much as Mr Odey is said to have made”.

Which is also a rather different matter, as Soros was not then involved in lobbying John Major to crash sterling out of the ERM and, so far as it was known, was not a big-time Major supporter in the preceding 1990 Conservative leadership election. It was a play on the collapse of a fixed exchange rate that was down to market forces and the determination of the UK government to defend it. Such short-selling ploys have worked at other times in the past, and at times they have backfired, like all shorting operations.

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Rees-Mogg knows a bit about money, and the difference between what was happening – in terms of individuals’ roles – in 1992 and today. It was a cheap and not a particularly effective debating point. He is no antisemite, but Rees-Mogg can be careless, tactless and tasteless as much as anyone else. He ought not to have placed himself in a place where he can be attacked for echoing similar internal Jewish conspiracy nonsense that has disfigured political debate for centuries – and led to the appalling consequences that shamed humanity in the 20th century. Soros, in particular, is a common object of abuse from the far right and those in his native Hungary still searching for scapegoats.

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UK news in pictures

1/50 3 October 2019

Police stands in front of the Treasury building during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London

2/50 2 October 2019

Ex-Thomas Cook employees demonstrate in London after delivering a petition calling for a full inquiry into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for the company’s directors to pay back their bonuses

3/50 1 October 2019

A road in Alum Rock, Birmingham is flooded after persistent heavy rain

4/50 30 September 2019

Two tourists pose for pictures in front of Union and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

5/50 29 September 2019

A sheep on London Bridge as Freemen of the City of London took up their historic entitlement to drive sheep over the bridge, which was once London’s only river crossing

6/50 28 September 2019

An Aldabra giant tortoise is fed watermelon as a treat at the Malvern Autumn Show, at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern in Worcestershire

7/50 27 September 2019

Gallery assistants pose with an artwork entitled ‘Devolved Parliament’ by British artist Banksy, during a press view in London ahead of Sotheby’s contemporary art sale, as part of the Frieze Art Fair

8/50 26 September 2019

England’s Jonathan Joseph is tackled by United State’s Marcel Brache during their group match at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. England scored seven tries on their way to winning 45-7

9/50 25 September 2019

Tributes for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. Today, the funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium before making the journey to Wellington Church

10/50 24 September 2019

A person dressed as a caricature of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court after it ruled that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal

11/50 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook aircraft are parked up at Manchester Airport on the day they collapsed after rescue talks failed. A total of 22,000 jobs – including 9,000 in UK – are to be lost following administration. More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

12/50 22 September 2019

Fire performer Penella Bee performs before people take part in the North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay in Nothumberland, an annual event that marks the Autumn Equinox and raises money for MIND – the Mental Health Charity

13/50 21 September 2019

Protesters gather for a march and rally organised by “The People’s Vote” in Brighton, to call for politicians to give the public a final say referendum on Brexit

14/50 20 September 2019

Protesters in London joined millions across world to demand urgent action to save planet in the largest environmental protest in history

15/50 19 September 2019

Rapper Dave poses with the Mercury Prize: Albums of the Year Award at Apollo

16/50 18 September 2019

A surfer in action during sunrise at Tynemouth on the north east coast

17/50 17 September 2019

Protesters dressed as the Incredible Hulk and Robocop outside the Supreme Court in London where judges are due to consider legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament. The Supreme Court will hear appeals over three days from two separate challenges to the prorogation of Parliament brought in England and Scotland

18/50 16 September 2019

Farmer Tom Hoggard harvests pumpkins at Howe Bridge Farm in Yorkshire, ahead of Halloween

19/50 15 September 2019

Team Europe celebrate winning the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Scotland. Europe won the last three singles matches to claim victory 14½-13½
Sunset at St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay

21/50 13 September 2019

Activists from PETA stage a demonstration outside a venue during London Fashion Week in London, Britain

22/50 12 September 2019

Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne attempts to stop a boundary in the fifth Test

23/50 11 September 2019

Storm clouds gather over the pier just off the North East coast at South Shields

24/50 10 September 2019

The peloton rides past the Angel of the North during stage four of the Tour of Britain from Gateshead to Kendal

25/50 9 September 2019

A penny farthing cyclist rides past St. John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, London

26/50 8 September 2019

Australia celebrate the wicket of England’s Craig Overton, which meant they won the fourth test and retained the Ashes

27/50 7 September 2019

Manchester City celebrate after Caroline Weir scored during their Women’s Super League match against Manchester United at Etihad Stadium. The WSL attendance record was smashed with 31,213 people watching the first Manchester derby of Women’s Super League era – nearly six times the previous WSL record

28/50 6 September 2019

A bull bumps into a plain clothes police officer (left) while being walked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen. It coincided with the publication of Lord Bew’s review and an announcement of extra funding for Scottish farmers

29/50 5 September 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cuts the hair of David Torrance MSP raising £1000 for the charity Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

30/50 4 September 2019

Australia’s David Warner looks dejected after being dismissed by England’s Stuart Broad during day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester

31/50 3 September 2019

Anti Brexit demonstrators attend a protest at Parliament Square. Lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday for a pivotal day in British politics as they challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the UK leave the European Union on 31 October, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow

32/50 2 September 2019

Set building begins on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh ahead of filming for Fast and Furious 9

33/50 1 September 2019

Members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club take part during the annual cricket match between the clubs, which takes place on the Bramble Bank sandbank in the middle of the Solent at low tide
Anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate at Whitehall in London

35/50 30 August 2019

One of the iconic ‘Girl with Balloon’ artworks by anonymous street artist Banksy is carried near one of the original locations the artwork appeared at on the Southbank in London

36/50 29 August 2019

The sun rises over the sculpture “The Couple” by artist Sean Henry, at Newbiggin-by-the-sea in Northumberland

37/50 28 August 2019

A person wearing a Boris Johnson ‘head’ digs a grave at the foot of a tombstone during a protest organised by Avaaz and Best for Britain, outside Downing Street in London

38/50 27 August 2019

Nat Lofthouse statue is covered in flags at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton

39/50 26 August 2019

Performers take part in Notting Hill Carnival. Nearly one million people were expected to attend Sunday and Monday’s carnival to celebrate Caribbean culture

40/50 25 August 2019

A competitor swims in the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Llanwryd Wells, Powys

41/50 24 August 2019

People flock to Bournemouth beach as a heatwave spells potentially record high temperatures for the bank holiday weekend

42/50 23 August 2019

Fans of Bury FC deliver a symbolic coffin to the club’s home at Gigg Lane as the continuation of their membership to the football league lies in doubt. The club will lose their membership at midnight if they don’t find a buyer or prove that they have the means to pay off their debts

43/50 22 August 2019

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow DEFRA Secretary Sue Hayman during a visit to Rakefoot Farm, Castlerigg, Keswick where they are highlighting the danger of a No Deal Brexit to sheep farmers

44/50 21 August 2019

Festival goers walk along the towpath of the River Thames as they arrive for the Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue

45/50 20 August 2019

Police officers gather to pay their respects at the scene near Ufton Lane, where Thames Valley Police officer PC Andrew Harper, 28, died on Thursday. Jed Foster, 20, has appeared at Reading Magristrates’ Court where denied any involvement with the murder

46/50 19 August 2019

A fire that broke out at the site of Village Bakery on Coed Aben Road, Wrexham Industrial Estate in Wales

47/50 18 August 2019

England fielders crowd Pat Cummins as he see’s out the final over during day five of the second Ashes Test match against Australia at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The test ended in a draw

48/50 17 August 2019

Glew (centre) and Monroe Adams (right) pose for a selfie with a member of the public outside DragWorld London 2019, Europe’s largest drag convention, featuring drag stars from the US and UK during a two-day event at Olympia, London

49/50 16 August 2019

A grey seal with fishing net tangled around its neck amongst the colony on the beach at Horsey in Norfolk, as RSPCA data show the number of animals affected by plastic litter is at an all-time high, with incidents increasing by 22% in just four years

50/50 15 August 2019

A flock of sheep are herded past government buildings in London by members of Farmers for a People’s Vote, a campaign group

1/50 3 October 2019

Police stands in front of the Treasury building during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London

2/50 2 October 2019

Ex-Thomas Cook employees demonstrate in London after delivering a petition calling for a full inquiry into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for the company’s directors to pay back their bonuses

3/50 1 October 2019

A road in Alum Rock, Birmingham is flooded after persistent heavy rain

4/50 30 September 2019

Two tourists pose for pictures in front of Union and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

5/50 29 September 2019

A sheep on London Bridge as Freemen of the City of London took up their historic entitlement to drive sheep over the bridge, which was once London’s only river crossing

6/50 28 September 2019

An Aldabra giant tortoise is fed watermelon as a treat at the Malvern Autumn Show, at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern in Worcestershire

7/50 27 September 2019

Gallery assistants pose with an artwork entitled ‘Devolved Parliament’ by British artist Banksy, during a press view in London ahead of Sotheby’s contemporary art sale, as part of the Frieze Art Fair

8/50 26 September 2019

England’s Jonathan Joseph is tackled by United State’s Marcel Brache during their group match at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. England scored seven tries on their way to winning 45-7

9/50 25 September 2019

Tributes for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. Today, the funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium before making the journey to Wellington Church

10/50 24 September 2019

A person dressed as a caricature of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court after it ruled that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal

11/50 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook aircraft are parked up at Manchester Airport on the day they collapsed after rescue talks failed. A total of 22,000 jobs – including 9,000 in UK – are to be lost following administration. More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

12/50 22 September 2019

Fire performer Penella Bee performs before people take part in the North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay in Nothumberland, an annual event that marks the Autumn Equinox and raises money for MIND – the Mental Health Charity

13/50 21 September 2019

Protesters gather for a march and rally organised by “The People’s Vote” in Brighton, to call for politicians to give the public a final say referendum on Brexit

14/50 20 September 2019

Protesters in London joined millions across world to demand urgent action to save planet in the largest environmental protest in history

15/50 19 September 2019

Rapper Dave poses with the Mercury Prize: Albums of the Year Award at Apollo

16/50 18 September 2019

A surfer in action during sunrise at Tynemouth on the north east coast

17/50 17 September 2019

Protesters dressed as the Incredible Hulk and Robocop outside the Supreme Court in London where judges are due to consider legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament. The Supreme Court will hear appeals over three days from two separate challenges to the prorogation of Parliament brought in England and Scotland

18/50 16 September 2019

Farmer Tom Hoggard harvests pumpkins at Howe Bridge Farm in Yorkshire, ahead of Halloween

19/50 15 September 2019

Team Europe celebrate winning the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Scotland. Europe won the last three singles matches to claim victory 14½-13½
Sunset at St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay

21/50 13 September 2019

Activists from PETA stage a demonstration outside a venue during London Fashion Week in London, Britain

22/50 12 September 2019

Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne attempts to stop a boundary in the fifth Test

23/50 11 September 2019

Storm clouds gather over the pier just off the North East coast at South Shields

24/50 10 September 2019

The peloton rides past the Angel of the North during stage four of the Tour of Britain from Gateshead to Kendal

25/50 9 September 2019

A penny farthing cyclist rides past St. John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, London

26/50 8 September 2019

Australia celebrate the wicket of England’s Craig Overton, which meant they won the fourth test and retained the Ashes

27/50 7 September 2019

Manchester City celebrate after Caroline Weir scored during their Women’s Super League match against Manchester United at Etihad Stadium. The WSL attendance record was smashed with 31,213 people watching the first Manchester derby of Women’s Super League era – nearly six times the previous WSL record

28/50 6 September 2019

A bull bumps into a plain clothes police officer (left) while being walked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen. It coincided with the publication of Lord Bew’s review and an announcement of extra funding for Scottish farmers

29/50 5 September 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cuts the hair of David Torrance MSP raising £1000 for the charity Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

30/50 4 September 2019

Australia’s David Warner looks dejected after being dismissed by England’s Stuart Broad during day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester

31/50 3 September 2019

Anti Brexit demonstrators attend a protest at Parliament Square. Lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday for a pivotal day in British politics as they challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the UK leave the European Union on 31 October, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow

32/50 2 September 2019

Set building begins on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh ahead of filming for Fast and Furious 9

33/50 1 September 2019

Members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club take part during the annual cricket match between the clubs, which takes place on the Bramble Bank sandbank in the middle of the Solent at low tide
Anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate at Whitehall in London

35/50 30 August 2019

One of the iconic ‘Girl with Balloon’ artworks by anonymous street artist Banksy is carried near one of the original locations the artwork appeared at on the Southbank in London

36/50 29 August 2019

The sun rises over the sculpture “The Couple” by artist Sean Henry, at Newbiggin-by-the-sea in Northumberland

37/50 28 August 2019

A person wearing a Boris Johnson ‘head’ digs a grave at the foot of a tombstone during a protest organised by Avaaz and Best for Britain, outside Downing Street in London

38/50 27 August 2019

Nat Lofthouse statue is covered in flags at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton

39/50 26 August 2019

Performers take part in Notting Hill Carnival. Nearly one million people were expected to attend Sunday and Monday’s carnival to celebrate Caribbean culture

40/50 25 August 2019

A competitor swims in the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Llanwryd Wells, Powys

41/50 24 August 2019

People flock to Bournemouth beach as a heatwave spells potentially record high temperatures for the bank holiday weekend

42/50 23 August 2019

Fans of Bury FC deliver a symbolic coffin to the club’s home at Gigg Lane as the continuation of their membership to the football league lies in doubt. The club will lose their membership at midnight if they don’t find a buyer or prove that they have the means to pay off their debts

43/50 22 August 2019

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow DEFRA Secretary Sue Hayman during a visit to Rakefoot Farm, Castlerigg, Keswick where they are highlighting the danger of a No Deal Brexit to sheep farmers

44/50 21 August 2019

Festival goers walk along the towpath of the River Thames as they arrive for the Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue

45/50 20 August 2019

Police officers gather to pay their respects at the scene near Ufton Lane, where Thames Valley Police officer PC Andrew Harper, 28, died on Thursday. Jed Foster, 20, has appeared at Reading Magristrates’ Court where denied any involvement with the murder

46/50 19 August 2019

A fire that broke out at the site of Village Bakery on Coed Aben Road, Wrexham Industrial Estate in Wales

47/50 18 August 2019

England fielders crowd Pat Cummins as he see’s out the final over during day five of the second Ashes Test match against Australia at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The test ended in a draw

48/50 17 August 2019

Glew (centre) and Monroe Adams (right) pose for a selfie with a member of the public outside DragWorld London 2019, Europe’s largest drag convention, featuring drag stars from the US and UK during a two-day event at Olympia, London

49/50 16 August 2019

A grey seal with fishing net tangled around its neck amongst the colony on the beach at Horsey in Norfolk, as RSPCA data show the number of animals affected by plastic litter is at an all-time high, with incidents increasing by 22% in just four years

50/50 15 August 2019

A flock of sheep are herded past government buildings in London by members of Farmers for a People’s Vote, a campaign group

Imagine, as so often in such cases, if it had been Jeremy Corbyn or some Labour figure who had let such a silly stray remark about Soros fall from their lips. The calls for an inquiry by the Conservatives would be deafening and used as another example of the (real) problem of antisemitism within the Labour Party. The Tories, and Boris Johnson, should apply the same standards to themselves as they set for others. Rees-Mogg should be told to say sorry.

Of course, as is his way, Rees-Mogg was also fairly shameless in admitting the role played by another very rich man, Crispin Odey, and how much he may profit from no-deal Brexit, even as thousands of British workers and farmers lose their livelihoods. Rees-Mogg went on at Ms Vaz: “So I fear all she is saying is that Mr Soros is a better hedge fund manager than my good friend Crispin Odey, who is a great friend of mine and, indeed, supporter of mine.”

It reminds me of a curious moment in the recent, and excellent, fly-on-the-wall Channel 4 documentary Tories at War. Chronicling events over the summer, in one scene Odey pops up and is happy to be interviewed about his support for Boris Johnson and no-deal Brexit. Speaking in July, Odey said: “If you’re looking for somebody who wants to carry out Brexit, you want somebody who actually will think once he is crossed, how do we get this done.”

“And you may at the same time have to create 100 new peers at the same time in the House of Lords.

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“You’re not going to change this current parliament, so you’ve got to dissolve it in some way.

“And of course it’s going to be the only way that we are going to be able to heal the rupture that is Brexit.”

Odey also thought aloud about the two sides of Johnson as “Boris One and Boris Two”.

He stated: “My phrase is, there’s Boris One and Boris Two. Boris One is a charming guy who tries to get everything by charming people, and bringing a bit of enthusiasm where there hasn’t been any. And says, ‘Come on, surely you can see where your future lies.’ That’s Boris One.

“Boris Two, which nobody’s really seen, is the one where Boris One has been denied and he is then fighting for his survival. And the interesting thing is, all of the risks to Boris about being unscrupulous then become part of his genius.”

It was this unscrupulous “Boris”, he said, that could be prepared to prorogue parliament and appoint new lords in order to get Brexit through. He didn’t add then, though it turned out to be the case, that his friend Rees-Mogg would be the chap flying to Balmoral to proffer the unlawful advice (by the highest court of the land) to HM the Queen.

Crispin Odey has shrugged off the allegations against him, calling them “crap”. “Does anyone have any influence on Boris? If you meet anyone who has any influence on Boris I’d like to meet them,” he added.

Much like his colleague Johnson in the role of prime minister, Rees-Mogg has been a disastrous leader of the House of Commons. He is supposed to, in part, represent the views and sentiments of the Commons to the cabinet. He is supposed to behave in a less partisan fashion than others. He is polite and emollient when he wishes to be, but also, as when he emulated some languorous Edwardian caricature statesman by reclining on the green benches, inadvertently appears to lack respect for the place and those in it. As much as anyone, apart from Mr Johnson and the attorney general Geoffrey Cox, he has made cross-party cooperation more difficult and no-deal Brexit much more likely. Except of course that his beloved parliament has passed legislation banning a no-deal Brexit without a vote in the House of Commons. Will Rees-Mogg be the first leader of the house to connive in defying the will of the House of Commons? It is he who looks to be part of a political conspiracy.