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Conservative Brexiteer accuses ‘out of control’ ERG of holding UK to ransom



LONDON — Conservative MPs who have led the opposition to Theresa May’s Withdrawal now risk causing the party to be “decimated,” a former member of the hardline pro-Brexit European Research Group, has told Business Insider.

Daniel Kawczynski MP, who quit the ERG this week, told Business Insider that: “These ERG MPs are holding us to ransom. If this continues as it is the Conservative party will be decimated. Who the hell is standing up to them? They are out of control.”

Speaking to Business Insider, Kawczynski said “recalcitrant MPs” in the ERG were “destroying the reputation of the Conservative party.”

“If this national humiliation goes on and we don’t get this deal across the line, we will be punished, and we will lose credibility for a generation,” he said.

He accused members of the group of showing “a huge amount of arrogance” and of being “millionaires in safe seats who think they will be cushioned from any catastrophic fall-out” from leaving with no deal.

He also accused his former colleagues of holding sexist views about the prime minister.

“I think there’s some misogynism there. There’s some at play,” he said.

The MP for Shrewsbury voted against the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement twice before switching to support it in March.

He resigned from the ERG caucus of Eurosceptic Tory MPs on Wednesday after claiming opponents of the deal were “endangering” Brexit.

He called for a fourth vote on the prime minister’s deal which was attached to a confidence vote, meaning any Conservative MP who voted against the deal would immediately lose the party whip.

The ERG’s deputy chairman Mark Francois insisted this week that members of the group will continue to oppose the deal.

He told BBC Newsnight: “The withdrawal agreement keeps us in the European Union, that’s why we’ve always been so against it.”

The ERG was founded in the 1990s in opposition to former prime minister John Major’s decision to sign the EU Maastricht Treaty.

It has been the leading vehicle for criticism of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, with votes from its members helping to see it defeated three times by parliament.

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