Hard Brexit Tories: a party within a party?

The European Research Group (ERG), led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, has been at the forefront of Conservative politics in recent months as it attempts to manoeuvre the party towards the hardest possible Brexit. But after winning concessions from the prime minister and flexing its muscles in parliament, the backlash has well and truly begun. Last week three MPs quit the Tory party, pointing to what they called the prime minister’s “dismal failure to stand up to the ERG … which operates openly as a party within a party”.

Now Theresa May has said she’s willing to offer MPs a vote on extending the Brexit deadline and removing the option of no deal. So how much power does the group really have? The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh tells Anushka Asthana that if Theresa May is to secure her Brexit deal in parliament, she still needs the ERG and its votes.

One of the group’s founding members, Daniel Hannan, a pro-Brexit Conservative MEP, says that far from being the shadowy outfit portrayed by the media, the ERG isn’t getting the credit it deserves for producing solutions to some of the thorniest Brexit problems.

Also today: Joanna Walters on the legal challenges now facing the billionaire Sackler family relating to the US opioid crisis.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg

Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

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