Politics Explained

Why the hardline Tory Brexiteers won’t get their way on Northern Ireland

The European Research Group is calling for new rules on exports after weeks of disruption, but Sean O'Grady explains why these Conservative mischief makers are unlikely to succeed

Thursday 25 February 2021 23:56
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<p>‘No Irish sea border’: graffiti in south Belfast</p>

‘No Irish sea border’: graffiti in south Belfast

The European Research Group is a body of around 70 to 80 Conservative backbench MPs with a wider penumbra of sympathisers in government, including the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, Suella Braverman and Michael Gove. It is chaired by Mark Francois, and Steve Baker is another prominent spokesperson for it. They regard themselves as the Spartan warriors of the Eurosceptic movement. On a good day and on the right issue it could wipe out the government’s present majority, and frequently did so when Theresa May and Boris Johnson were running minority governments and trying to get their various Brexit deals through the Commons before the December 2019 election.

Since then, the opportunities for Brexit mischief have subsided, but the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol has opened up a new front. The ERG want it scrapped, and, superficially, they have some strong arguments.

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