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These Conservative party factions are battling to take control of May’s Brexit plans



Theresa May
Theresa May and her supporters

  • Brexit Delivery Group, newly launched by Cameron
    confidant Nick Boles, seeks a pragmatic approach to
  • Meanwhile, the European Research group are preparing
    for a busy recess, trying to promote newer MPs like
    ex-Conservative Vice Chair Ben Bradley.
  • Three more Tory MPs are anticipated to join the
    People’s Vote campaign soon, albeit not
  • However, insiders believe a change of mood in the
    parliamentary party is dependent on Damian Green and Amber

LONDON – The EU referendum result and Theresa May’s struggles to
agree a strategy for honouring it, has left the Conservative
party in its most fractious state for decades.

In recent weeks May has suffered a series of resignations from
her frontbench, growing numbers of backbench rebellions in the
Commons and the prospect of an outright vote of no confidence
from her parliamentary party.

Amidst the discord, a series of groups have emerged who are all
battling to influence what happens next.

Here are the main groups vying for control of the Conservative
government and its strategy for Brexit.

The Brexit Delivery Group

Theresa MayREUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The Brexit Delivery Group is a new group of
Conservative MPs which seeks to “give the Prime Minister and
Government the peace to operate” and is set to be fully rolled
out after recess. The group is a mix of those, such as David T.
C. Davies and Andrew Percy, who voted for Leave, and Nick Boles
and Simon Hart who voted for Remain. 

With reportedly over twenty MPs signed up, the BDG are looking to
ensure the UK leaves with a deal in March 2019, with the
potential for nuanced issues to be dealt with in the transition

The group seeks to distinguish themselves from those on “the
extremes” of the debate, and provide a voice for the “quiet and
unassuming middle ground” of the Conservative Party, according to
one senior figure in the BRG, who said the group oppose the
“creation of new red lines only months before Brexit negotiations

The BDG have been in early talks with rebels, seeking to persuade
them to end partisanship in favour of pragmatism. Soft Brexiteers
like Stephen Hammond and Nicky Morgan are believed to have been
in discussions with the group.

People’s Vote

Justine Greening
Former Education Secretary
Justine Greening


Rumours persist that more Conservatives are set to join the
People’s Vote campaign, with Amber Rudd,
Antoinette Sandbach and Nicky Morgan being named as MPs who are
likely to join the campaign. Morgan, the former Education
secretary, has been mentioned by insiders as a future supporter
of a People’s Vote since Easter, when initial plans for a media
rollout were being formulated. 

When approached by Business Insider for comment, both Morgan and
Sandbach denied that they were about to join the People’s Vote
Campaign. This sentiment was echoed by a source in the Open
Britain, campaign who said that while they were working on
securing their support, an announcement was not yet imminent.

Sandbach is currently a member of a group of Tory soft
informally led by Stephen Hammond, of which
around a dozen other MPs are members. Chiefly looking to
counteract the influence of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the European
Research Group, positioning in the group varies significantly,
from vocally Remain MPs like Ken Clarke, to MPs who those who
take a more nuanced position such as Tom Tugendhat. 

European Research Group

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Conservative MP Jacob

Reuters / Simon

The ERG is the most vocal of all the groups
battling for control of the Brexit process. Led by Jacob
Rees-Mogg, the ERG is fiercely anti-EU and is effective at using
the media to get its message across. An even more increased media
presence is planned over recess, with former Minister for No Deal
Steve Baker having planned a media grid, designed to demonstrate
a wider breadth of support amongst MPs. The group is keen for a
younger and more diverse range of spokespeople with Ben Bradley
and Priti Patel mentioned as figures set to appear in the media
more in the coming months. 

While numbers as high as eighty have been floated as the
membership figure for the ERG, the number of committed members is
probably closer to 40. MPs such as Glyn Davies and Paul Scully
have often been cited as members who might want to keep the
pressure on the Government but these are hardly partisan or
factional figures, and would struggle to sign up to some of the
more hardline rhetoric of Nadine Dorries or Andrea Jenkyn. 

The “paramilitary Brexiteers”

Christopher Chope and Philip Davies
Christopher Chope and
Philip Davies


There’s another group of hardline Brexiteers, described by Sam
Coates recently in
The Times
as “Paramilitary Brexiteers”. With
Andrew Bridgen and Phillip Bone amongst their members. This group
of half a dozen or so MPs are much more outwardly aggressive to
May, with
Phillip Davies
Andrew Bridgen
having put their letters in to trigger a vote
of no confidence in May already.

Overall, insiders are keen to play down the mutual exclusivity of
these factions, and the partisanship within them. For example,
Foreign Affairs Select Committee Chair Tom Tugenhat has been a
part of
pro-Customs Union campaigns
, but has never rebelled against
the Government. 

Other Tory Brexit insiders highlight Amber Rudd and Damian Green
as figures to watch regarding Brexit movements within the

Despite both resigning in disgrace, Rudd and Green were senior
ministers under May, and duly supported her Brexit policy when in
the Cabinet. If that were to change now, it would signify a new
front in the Brexit battle within the Conservative party.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain’s departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider’s political reporters. Join here.

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