Theresa May and her tired deputies hobble towards summer vacation this week, beaten by night dramas and torn loyalties, only one faction in the bitterly divided conservative party seems emboldened and ready for the next fight: European research group of Jacob Rees-Mogg (ERG).
Funded in part by MPs contributions to taxpayer-funded office expenses, and with its own spinners and de facto whips coordinating their troops on WhatsApp, ERG leads the Conservative Party's fight for a breakup net with Brussels.
"They are a unique pressure group within the Conservative party that has had little regard for the long-term damage they've been causing to the party for decades," says the former minister of finance. # 39; Education. secretary Nicky Morgan. "It's our version of Momentum."
Once the Prime Minister persuaded his cabinet to sign Checkers' agreement, with regulatory alignment in key areas, it was inevitable that there was a reaction from the GRE, but his ferocity
Seeking ways to demonstrate their numbers in parliament, members of the group tabled four amendments to this week's Customs Bill, aimed at destroying Checkers' agreement, including "customs arrangements". facilities of May.
At the last minute, and to the fury of the remains, the government simply accepted them all, raising questions about the fact that certain aspects of the agreement would even be legal as a result.
destabilizing maneuvers, including a drip, an avalanche of resignations, others will follow, especially if May is forced to new concessions by the EU27.
The ERG game has remarkably accelerated since the return of Steve Baker, the pugnacious former RAF engineer who resigned from his post as Minister of the Departement of the European Union (DexEU ) in the wake of David Davis
"Steve is a consigliere in war, and he is seasoned," said a conservative. "We are the opposition – and we have a plan," says another.
Baker has already made a series of pointed interventions in the House of Commons – requiring the publication of DexEU documents, for example – that underline his determination to use all means. the weapon at the disposal of the deputies against the government of which he was so recently a member.
He stressed how much the planning of a Brexit without negotiation, of which he was responsible, has already been done, with the aim of undermining the idea that such a result would be a disaster.
A source of ERG's power is its number. When conservative whips tried to explain to the angry remnants why they had yielded to Rees-Mogg and his colleagues, they told them that the ERG had up to 80 MPs ready and willing to vote against the Checkers agreement.
Baker seemed to subscribe who estimates himself in the House of Commons on Wednesday, telling MPs: "Number 40 [of hard Brexiters] has been circulating in this house over the past few days, and I am sorry to say so, and it does not make me happy to say, "The people who said the number 40 are not outside of a fraction when they come to consider the number of members who do not like this case on these benches and are ready to vote in accordance with this aversion, they are eliminated by a factor, not by a fraction. "
It gathered 62 MPs in February, who put their names to a public letter making a series of demands about Brexit," total regulatory autonomy "- far from the" common rules "for Among them were senior MPs for whom leaving the EU had long been a primary goal, such as Peter Bone and Bill Cash, but also newcomers in 2017 such as Rachel Maclean and Stephen Kerr, highlighting the fact that the desire for a break net is not limited to conservative dinosaurs
The other great tactical advantage of the ERG is its sheer cruelty. For many, but not all, of its members, getting the Brexit, and specifically an agreement that allows Britain to break with the rules and tariffs of the EU, is the political objective that the Outweighs all others
. The Conservative Party's civil war agrees that the Eurosceptics are simply more willing to "blow up the bloody gates," as ironically said political scientist Philip Cowley of Queen Mary University of London
Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve was an enthusiast. advocate for the cause of ensuring that parliament could avoid a Brexit without agreement. But when May urged him personally not to destabilize his government by rejecting him on the EU 's withdrawal bill, he graciously came down, citing "what my first friend did me. said of his anxieties ".
Rees-Mogg has repeatedly asserted his loyalty to May, but made it clear that the Brexit approach outlined in the White Paper is not something I would vote for and this n & # 39; This is not what the British voted. The ERG hand was also reinforced by the two large firm beasts who returned to the back benches, Davis and Boris Johnson.
While the pair has not coordinated their departures, and Davis is more closely tied to the ERG, hard Brexiters are hoping for two resignations, in particular, will filter to public consciousness and create a perception that all is not well with the approach of the government.
Downing Street hopes that by returning MPs to their constituencies for the summer holidays, that they tried and failed to do a few days earlier last week, their chances of plotting and to mumble will be minimized.
Their argument will only benefit a few weeks in the company of members of the base and voters, during garden parties, hospital visits and fundraisers that still punctuate the life of the family. A local deputy
. The constituencies and what they're actually going to get are the riding associations that say, "It's terrible, we're going to lose that seat," said one outgoing
Johnson used his resignation speech to frame the argument that the vote Let the veteran and ERG pirates plan to stay home during the summer: voters will not wear Checkers
A series of recent polls have shown that the Labor Party is ahead of the Conservatives. The Observer's latest Opinium poll saw the Conservative vote drop by six points since the beginning of June to 36%, apparently as a result of a resurgence of support to UKip, whose support went from 3 % last month at 8%.
The Brexiters clean believe this swing can only help them, sowing alarm among conservatives on the potential impact of the compromise deal put in place at Checkers. The fact that they are ready to grasp the declining public popularity of their own party to emphasize their point of view underscores the ruthless nature of the enemy that May now faces.
Johnson, Ress-Mogg and Davis all professed their loyalty to May. in the last days. But few people in Westminster doubt that its future is threatened if it fails to rally the ERG. As one senior official said: "If she gets anything through the Commons that drops Brexit the next day, there would be a motion of censure, and it would pass."