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Westlake Legal Group > Eurosceptics

Who’s supporting whom: David Jeffery’s calculations. 4) ERG members.

Westlake Legal Group Jeffery-ERG Who’s supporting whom: David Jeffery’s calculations. 4) ERG members. Rory Stewart MP Next Tory leader MPs ETC leadership Highlights Eurosceptics ERG Dominic Raab MP Conservative leadership election 2019 Brexit Boris Johnson MP

Conservative Leadership election: the breakdown of candidates’ supporters by ERG membership.

Source: David Jeffery’s Blog.

David Jeffery of Liverpool University has been undertaking some fascinating study in depth of the leadership contest on his blog – which we have quoted several times in the course of our coverage.

So we are this week running a selection of some of his most interesting findings. They and much more can be seen on his blog, which we link to above.

Jeffery declares at the start that “this information in this is correct as of 17:00, 13/06/2018”.

His study is of declared supporters from before the first ballot – so Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart are all included in his calculation.

The chart above shows the percentage figures. Obviously, it must be remembered that some candidates won more declared supporters (and votes) than others, and the percentages must be seen in that light.

Looking at the differences between candidates really illustrates the journey Raab and Johnson have been on, if not together then alongside one another. The former Foreign Secretary reportedly performed well at the ERG hustings (in which he was pitched directly in competition with Raab), and that is reflected in his numbers above. That dealt an early blow to Raab’s ambitions, and contributed to a heavy Brexiteer squeeze of his voter.

Even after that disruption, a hefty share of Raab’s support base were still in the ERG. Following his elimination, more than a few of them appear to have shifted their support to Johnson as the surviving candidate who already enjoys the support of a good number of their ERG colleagues. Raab’s former supporters offered inevitably slim pickings for Stewart, contributing to his difficulty in capitalising on the opportunity.

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Candidate applications open in seven more seats, including two extremely close marginals

Seven more parliamentary seats are currently open for candidate applications. Following what appears to be a deliberate pattern – possibly to offer opportunities to candidates with different aims and plans – the tranche ranges from two hyper-marginal seats (Barrow in Furness and Keighley), via four with majorities of a few thousand, up to one (Sefton Central) which has a pretty huge Labour majority. Two (Barrow, and Bury South) were won by Labour in 2017 but have incumbent MPs who have since departed to sit as independents.

Notably, all but one (Sefton Central) are estimated by Chris Hanretty to have voted Leave in the referendum. Given this fact, and the mood of the Conservative grassroots about the Government’s Brexit delay, it will be interesting to see if that has any bearing on the eventual selections.

Here are the seven seats:

Barrow in Furness: Incumbent: John Woodcock (sitting as an independent since 2018). Labour majority: 209.

Bassetlaw: Incumbent: John Mann. Labour majority: 4,852.

Bolton North East: Incumbent: David Crausby. Labour majority: 3,797.

Bury South: Incumbent: Ivan Lewis (sitting as an independent since 2018). Labour majority: 5,965.

Gedling: Incumbent: Vernon Coaker. Labour majority: 4,694.

Keighley: Incumbent: John Grogan. Labour majority: 249.

Sefton Central: Incumbent: Bill Esterson. Labour majority: 15,618.

Applications close on Friday 10th May.

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The list of Conservative Associations which passed the pro-Brexit AGM motion

Here is a list of the Conservative Associations which have passed the National Convention’s pro-Brexit motion at their Annual General Meetings:


Birmingham Hall Green


Chingford and Woodford Green

Clwyd South

Corby and East Northamptonshire

East Ham

Esher and Walton



Hertford and Stortford

Mid Bedfordshire

North East Somerset

North Tyneside




Rayleigh and Wickford

Rochester and Strood

South East Cornwall


Torridge and West Devon


In addition, tweaked versions of the motion have been passed in:



Tunbridge Wells

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Alex King: The Remainers’ notion that Brexit is founded on dreams of empire is a tired fantasy

Alex King formerly worked in Parliament for the Policy Research Unit, and is now a public affairs consultant.

When Sir Charles Napier, a 19th Century British general, gained control of the province of Sindh in south eastern Pakistan, he supposedly sent a message back to London consisting of just one word to relay his triumph: ‘Peccavi’, or ‘I have sinned’. Although likely apocryphal, the story now serves to demonstrate how some on the Remain side of the Brexit campaign have come to view those who voted Leave – as sinners who are not only unrepentant, but who all along were simply aiming to realise a long dampened desire, to re-stake Britain’s claim to imperial power and splendour.

The thinking goes that the Brexit vote was the last charge of a group of people who have not yet reconciled themselves to the end of empire, and who refuse to acknowledge that Britain is just an insignificant archipelago at the northern tip of Europe. These are the people who close their ears when they hear mention of the word ‘Suez’, who are still upset that we didn’t send gunboats into Hong Kong harbour in 1997, and view Trident as the political equivalent of Viagra.  They refuse to admit that Britain is a declining force in world affairs, and indulge in mad dreams that it can once again rule the world. Dreams of a glorious past that could be lived again have blinded them to the bleak reality, that Britain’s heyday as a world power is over and never coming back.

This line of thinking has come to the fore in recent weeks, as commentators seek to explain why those who voted leave could still possibly want to leave the EU even after they’ve been warned about the apparent damage it will do. Ryan Heath believes that “Brexit is the story of a proud former imperial power undergoing a mid-life crisis” and “a way for Britain to feel big again”, while Gary Younge thinks that “An image was conjured of Britain striding out of the EU in top hat and tails…towards a glorious past.” Fintan O’Toole was even more explicit, writing that a crucial reason for Brexit was the idea of the UK’s “vertiginous fall from ‘heart of Empire’ to ‘occupied colony’.”

These ideas have been present in British politics for many years. Each time Britain suffers a failure of any kind on the international stage, the same quote from Dean Acheson, President Truman’s Secretary of State, is gleefully trotted out, that ‘Britain has lost an empire and not found a role’. A large chunk of Remainers believe that the people in charge of Brexit sold implicit visions of Britain striding the world stage again, and people who for it voted swallowed it whole. What we are seeing, according to this analysis, is nothing less than the forlorn hope of a fallen empire.

In his article, Younge goes on to quote what Kristian Jensen, the Danish finance minister,  said last year, that “There are two kinds of European nations…There are small nations and there are countries that have not yet realised they are small nations”, and notes that “This is Britain’s most public and painful reckoning with its size and influence in its post-colonial state”. O’ Toole reckons that “in the imperial imagination, there are only two states: dominant and submissive, coloniser and colonised.” When you have a post-colonial hammer, it turns out everything is an imperial nail.

Such ideas are patronising and wholly unpersuasive to anyone who actually voted Leave. A pitch that tells all those who voted Leave for a better future that all they wanted was to replay Britannia’s greatest hits is unlikely to be much of a goer. But, most importantly, they’re also wrong.

The last throw of the dice to try and cling on as an imperial power was in fact the decision to join the EEC, the EU’s forerunner. Even as the ‘wind of change’ was blowing through Africa, Harold Macmillan was advocating Britain’s membership of the EEC as a way of ensuring unity in the pursuit of “strength in the struggle for freedom.” As Macmillan said when announcing the Government’s intention to join the EEC in 1961, “This is a political as well as an economic issue. Although the Treaty of Rome is concerned with economic matters it has an important political objective, namely, to promote unity and stability in Europe which is so essential a factor in the struggle for freedom and progress throughout the world.”

The hope was that through the EEC, Britain would become greater than the sum of its parts, and continue playing its natural role as a global superpower, the leading actor in a theatre of nations. Acheson himself, in the same speech at West Point in 1962 where he questioned Britain’s future, said that our application to join the Common Market was a ‘decisive turning point’ for modern Europe, and that a successful application would mean a “step forward of vast importance will have been taken” towards increasing European strength.

This is the strange contradiction at the heart of the latest attempts to see empire at the heart of everything Britain does. Leaving the EU is apparently an attempt to relive such heady days, yet we would be leaving the very institution we joined to prolong our imperial adventure, while being consistently told that doing so would deprive us of weight and influence.

The thinking seems to be that Britain’s futile attempt to increase its power by striking out alone is laughable, anachronistic and the product of imperial fantasy, but don’t worry, if you stay in the EU you can still do it properly (and morally) as part of a group of former empire builders! When it comes to imperial ambition, apparently only teamwork makes the dream work. It is also quite galling to be accused of seeking a return to empire by proponents of an institution that consistently seeks all the trappings of empire, whether that is a national anthem, a star spangled banner, or greater common defence capabilities (read: an army).

This is not the time or the place to conduct an in depth analysis of precisely what motivated millions of Leave voters to decide to vote to leave the EU. Some will indeed have voted for it out of a misplaced notion of the UK’s place in the world, or because they believe Britain needs a more global outlook. Others will have voted for it for the very opposite reason, out of a desire to stop the world and be left alone. But tired and complacent ideas suggesting it was for one last imperial jolly need to be consigned to the dustbin of Brexit analyses.

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