The Brexiteer ERG Held A Press Conference And Everyone Is Pointing Out The Same Thing

Kate Forrester
Ex-Brexit secretary David Davis addresses an ERG press conference on Tuesday.

It’s been what you might call A Bit Of A Week in Westminster politics. It seems like years since Theresa May unveiled her long-awaited Brexit plan before her Cabinet last Wednesday.

In the six days that followed, we’ve had two high-profile resignations, a cast-iron assurance May’s political foes had drummed up the support they needed to topple her, and an admission that they, er, haven’t. 

On top of this, there have been more press conferences than you can shake a withdrawal agreement at – the latest of which was organised by the ardently pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG).

The band of MPs, chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg and including former Brexit secretary David Davis, were leading the charge last week to gather the 48 letters of no confidence needed to trigger a challenge to May’s leadership. 

But things haven’t quite gone to plan, with Rees-Mogg admitting on Tuesday that events may be more slow-moving than first thought, as his attempted coup was described as having gone a bit “Dad’s Army”.

That wasn’t the only thing observers were keen to point out, as Rees-Mogg appeared alongside Davis, Tory peer and ex-Cabinet minister Peter Lilley and Labour Leave co-founder John Mills.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, a champion of the pro-EU Best For Britain campaign, said the ERG’s didn’t exactly reflect those of the UK, branding the press conference “a show of 1950s Britain”.

“These white, pale and male dinosaurs from another era talked a lot but said very little,” Moran told HuffPost UK. “It is scandalous that this group of rent-a-quotes hold the future of the country in their hands. These people in the ERG are the barrier to equality in Britain.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips told HuffPost UK: “They couldn’t look more out of touch and as if they are representing the tiny minority of a rich and powerful boys’ club if they tried.”

Bella Frimpong, who is campaigning for a so-called People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, said: “The European Research Group’s press conference shows them for what they really are; privileged old white men, who are not representative of the wider British public in any way.”

Frimpong pointed out that when the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave group was formed several months ago, just two of its 46 stated supporters were women.

“Shortly after that, one of those two women left the group,” she added. “I am proud that our campaign presents a stark contrast to this; championing a range of diverse young people from differing backgrounds across the UK, transcending race, class and gender.”

But ERG member Nadine Dorries was keen to support the group. She went out to bat for the group shortly after the press conference, telling reporters its failure to rack up 48 letters against the PM was “a tactical decision”.

“With the number being just short of 48 we are using that as leverage to renegotiate the deal,” the Tory MP added.

Related...