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Yesterday’s Men: The Brexit hardliners’ last stand

Yesterday’s Men: The Brexit hardliners’ last stand


The European Research Group was once the most consequential faction in the Conservative party, playing a central role in bringing down former prime minister Theresa May and installing Boris Johnson in Number 10. And yet, in a recent test of strength, the Brexit hardliners stumbled. This is the story of what happened to the ERG.

Why this story?

In their heyday, the Brexit hardliners who make up the ERG commanded near mythical, bogeyman status. They brought down Theresa May’s government, the ghost story would go. Perhaps they could bring you down too. 

The backbench Conservative MPs who make up the group compare the ERG to a submarine – patrolling the waters under the surface, ready to break cover should the need arise. But there was a moment last month when the submarine appeared to have been scuttled. 

A childish spat, a rebellion that flopped and a would-be leadership contender all but finished off has led some to call time on the group that once held the country’s fate in its hands. And begged the question: could another group be ready to replace them?