ERG Brokering Brexit Party Stand Down Terms with Downing Street

Guido understands despite Farage’s public offer of an electoral pact being rejected by Boris, behind the scenes the ERG is trying to broker an understanding. Farage told an ERG MP yesterday he would be “looking very closely” at the Tory manifesto, as the pair discussed the ERG’s demands that Boris makes an explicit commitment to keep ‘No Deal’ on the table during the future relationship negotiations. This morning Andrew Bridgen spoke with Downing Street and CCHQ, Farage’s hint that he would stand down candidates if the ERG’s demands were met was reportedly “well-received”. Is Farage looking to dig out of his hole?

Several ERG MPs also met with Boris this morning in CCHQ, where Tory candidates and MPs were taking photos with the PM for election literature. The ERG want the Tory manifesto to include an explicit reference that the aim of the next phase of negotiations with the EU is for a simple FTA and that if no agreement is made by the end of 2020, Britain will leave on WTO terms. Last week The Times reported that Boris will remove the threat of ‘No Deal’ from the Conservative manifesto, however, several ERG MPs have told Guido this would be akin to “surrender”. Steve Baker tells Guido: Having condemned the Surrender Act it would totally bizarre to enter FTA negotiations and rule out leaving with No Deal.”

Downing Street seems to agree, this morning the PM’s spokesman categorically ruled out extending the transition beyond 2020, “the government will not be extending the transition period”. Which means there will be a year to hammer out and finalise a free trade agreement. Easily doable given the UK-EU’s existing total regulatory alignment…

mdi-timer 4th November 2019 @ 2:28 pm 4th Nov 2019 @ 2:28 pm mdi-comment Comments
Rees-Mogg: I Won’t Back the Deal Unless the DUP are on Board

Theresa May’s promise to step down last night if the deal passes looks to have unlocked substantially more support for the deal – a clear majority of the ERG have now come over including big beasts Boris and IDS – although a hard core of around 20-30 diggers-in remains. They are “still looking for a ditch in which to die”, in the words of one MP there…

May’s biggest hurdle now is the DUP, who put out a fresh statement last night confirming they still could not support the deal, before Nigel Dodds brutally put down any suggestion that they could abstain instead of voting against it:

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has now been branded everything from “traitor” to “eurofederalist” after saying it’s May’s deal or no Brexit on Monday, reiterated his position on Peston last night that he will still vote against the deal unless the DUP are on board. However, he does suggest how domestic law could be used to address the DUP’s concerns. Will it be enough? We’ll find out soon enough…

UPDATE: It’s still a no from the DUP according to Laura Kuenssberg “For avoidance of doubt, DUP will vote against agreement tomorrow, party source says”

 

mdi-timer 28th March 2019 @ 8:59 am 28th Mar 2019 @ 8:59 am mdi-comment Comments
Rees-Mogg: ERG Will Only Vote For Deal if Brexit Itself is Threatened

ERG chair Jacob Rees-Mogg has told Kay Burley that the ERG haven’t yet decided which way to vote on the new meaningful vote this evening. JRM says the ERG will be meeting at 5pm to discuss whether the threat of no Brexit is real or “phantom”. Only if Brexit is at risk altogether will they consider voting for what is still a “bad deal”…

mdi-timer 12th March 2019 @ 3:34 pm 12th Mar 2019 @ 3:34 pm mdi-comment Comments
ERG Splits On Latest Brexit Vote Overblown

Last night’s Brexit votes were notable less for what they were than the way Tory MPs voted on them. The Government ultimately accepted the new Cooper Amendment F which recommitted them to the timetable for a vote on delaying Brexit that May first offered on Tuesday, imposing a poorly organised three-line whip in favour of the amendment which led to chaos in the voting lobbies. Chris Grayling was spotted in the wrong lobby and the Prime Minister reportedly even had to ask a whip which way to vote…

Despite the confusion, over 100 Tory MPs directly defied the three-line whip to abstain or even vote against the amendment, not a remotely trivial number in itself. However the most interesting subplot that emerged was the split between the 88 MPs who abstained, and the 20 MPs who directly voted against it, including Esther McVey and Bill Cash. Could this be the start of the split between the hard core who will never vote for May’s deal under any circumstances and the group who could come round to it if enough concessions are secured by Geoffrey Cox? Even more significantly, does this signify the minimum number of Tory MPs who would vote for May’s removal in a vote of no confidence if she were to extend Article 50?

ERG sources have played down the significance of the split, the ERG were naturally opposed to the amendment but beyond that were not particularly fussed about whether to vote against it or simply to abstain, given its ultimate lack of significance. Guido also understands that reports of splits emerging between Boris and Rees-Mogg on the one hand and Steve Baker on the other have been much overblown – while Jacob did hint at a slight softening of his position on full-on treaty change to the backstop yesterday, sources close to the three have categorically dismissed reports of any splits emerging between them. Everything still hinges on what, if anything, Cox can bring back from Brussels…

The 20 MPs who voted against the Cooper amendment outright were:

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mdi-timer 28th February 2019 @ 9:05 am 28th Feb 2019 @ 9:05 am mdi-comment Comments
Rees-Mogg Hints at Brexit Compromise if Backstop Goes

Jacob Rees-Mogg has dropped some strong hints that he may be prepared to soften his stance on Theresa May’s Brexit deal if the backstop is taken out. The ERG Chairman told a packed Bruges Group event that “as long as the backstop is there, I will not vote for the deal,” but added that “there is hope that there could be reformation of this deal to make it more acceptable.” The Moggster added that he felt things were “going our way” with EU splits beginning to open up with Poland and, significantly, Ireland, while insisting that he was not going soft:

“I like reading the papers that I’ve become a soft touch. I do whatever my children tell me. And they’re all staunch Eurosceptics.”

This could prove to be a smart move from the ERG, by flat-out opposing any form of the deal they risked condemning themselves to irrelevance, particularly if Yvette Cooper succeeds in ramming a juggernaut through the constitution next week. By focusing their demands on the more realistic target of the backstop they could see momentum swing back their way – even if the backstop is not removed altogether, legally binding changes are looking more feasible than before. As Rees-Mogg wrote himself on Sunday, “Even Mrs May’s deal would be better than not leaving at all”…

UPDATE: Boris has also hinted at a possible compromise if the deal changes, saying on the way past out of Number 10 that “if we negotiate with conviction… we can secure the changes that we need”…

mdi-timer 23rd January 2019 @ 2:24 pm 23rd Jan 2019 @ 2:24 pm mdi-comment Comments
DUP: We’d “Rather Be Shafted By Labour” Than Accept Backstop

Tory MPs turned out in force for last night’s weekly ERG meeting, with around 80 MPs in attendance as well as notable guests including Chief Whip Julian Smith and May’s Deputy Chief of Staff, JoJo Penn. Jacob Rees-Mogg informed the ERG of the outcome of his and Steve Baker’s earlier meeting with Nigel Dodds, where Dodds made clear that the DUP would support the Government in any confidence motion if the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected. If the Withdrawal Agreement went through their support was far from certain…

Also in attendance were DUP MPs Sammy Wilson – who was “cheered to the rafters” by Tory MPs – and Ian Paisley Jr, who made the point directly to Julian Smith’s face that while the DUP had been very happy working with the Tories, they would “rather be shafted by Labour” than accept the backstop. As Dodds pointed out later on Peston, you don’t need a General Election to bring down a government:

Smith himself addressed the meeting later on, while he didn’t get a hostile reception from the ERG, his points were all shot down in the detail. Smith suggested that some tinkering was possible but gave an impression of a government that was reluctant to ask EU member states for any further changes. The overall message remained clear: it’s the PM’s deal or nothing, the Government has no other plans. And they wonder why the EU has been able to play them like a fiddle from start to finish…

mdi-timer 6th December 2018 @ 8:45 am 6th Dec 2018 @ 8:45 am mdi-comment Comments
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