Despite a number of MPs announcing that they will back Theresa May’s Brexit now that she has said she will leave within weeks of it passing, senior members of the European Research Group have come out fighting this evening to insist the deal still doesn’t have the votes.
Steve Baker received what one source described as an ‘enormous standing ovation’. The source said: ‘His voice was cracking with emotion, so much so that at the end he was hugged by Jacob [Rees-Mogg] and others at the top table. We are not a hugging group.’
Baker’s speech included the following lines:
‘What is our liberty for if not to govern ourselves?’
‘Like all of you I have wrestled with my conscience about what to do.’
‘I could tear this place down and bulldoze it into the river.’
‘These fools and knaves and cowards are voting on things they don’t even understand.’
‘We’ve been put in this place by people whose addiction to power without responsibility has led them to put the choice of No Brexit or this deal. ‘
‘I may yet resign the whip than be part of this.’
ERG sources are claiming that there is no way there are enough votes going the Prime Minister’s way to ensure that her deal will pass. But there are other key members of the group who have already declared that they are going to support May, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson. The split among the Brexiteers is opening up still wider, between those who believe that the only pragmatic thing to do is to vote for the deal to ensure any sort of Brexit happens, and those who fear that abandoning principle will have far worse consequences.