Arch-Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg has marked his arrival as a senior minister in Boris Johnson’s new government by issuing a detailed style edict for his departmental staff.
Under the new rules centimetres and kilometres are to be dropped in favour of imperial measures, while “untitled” men are to be described in writing as “esquire”, rather than “Mr”.
Staff in the office of Mr Rees-Mogg, appointed leader of the House of Commons in this week’s cabinet reshuffle, were handed a style guide on how to prepare papers for their new boss, who made clear he should be addressed “Jacob Rees-Mogg, Esq., M.P.”
The note, first reported by ITV News on Friday, included a list of banned words, among them “unacceptable,” “hopefully” and “due to”. It also decreed that documents must contain double spaces after full stops.
On Friday evening Mr Rees-Mogg, often mocked as “the member of parliament for the 18th century”, said he had been mulling the rules before he took on his new post.
“It is a list drawn up by my parliamentary office some time ago,” he said.
If members of staff in his new office are unhappy with the measures, writing a memo to their boss could be a minefield. A list of banned phrases includes “No longer fit for purpose”, along with “meet with”, “speculate”, “ascertain” and “I note/ understand your concerns”.
All organisations must now be treated as singular and staff have been told a key rule is “CHECK your work”.
Mr Rees-Mogg is chairman of the European Research Group, the collection of hardline Tory Eurosceptics pushing Mr Johnson to take the UK out of the EU by October 31.
His inclusion in Mr Johnson’s government is an indication of his determination to resolve Brexit by the scheduled departure date, with or without a deal with Brussels.
Earlier this year Mr Rees-Mogg’s book on the Victorian era was panned by critics, with one describing it as “staggeringly silly”.
Greg Hands, the former chief secretary to the Treasury, took to Twitter to support Mr Rees-Mogg.
He said: “Apart from a worrying Day 1 leak, the outrage on the @Jacob_Rees_Mogg memo from people who have never been Ministers or civil servants. Such style guides save time. The Minister will only sign off letters in his/her own name that he/she is satisfied with, so be clear up front!”