HARDLINERS in the European Research Group (ERG) will no longer be able to hold the Government to “ransom” when Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson likely to pivot to a soft Brexit in the coming months, a political analyst has said.
And Professor Tony Travers of LSE London told Express.co.uk Thursday’s general election, in which Mr Johnson’s Conservatives won a crushing victory, marked the end of almost a decade of instability for British Government. In a historic victory, the Conservative Party won 365 seats compared with Labour’s 203 to bag an 80-seat majority. Prof Travers told Express.co.uk Mr Johnson’s standing had been boosted enormously as a result of the emphatic result.
He said: “He’s now very powerful in his party and in Government, not least because many of these new MPs who are coming in will feel they owe him a debt of loyalty.
“The ERG cannot really hold Boris Johnson to ransom anymore because their power base will be diluted.
“They will get Brexit – but it won’t be the clean Brexit they were hoping for.”
Mr Johnson this weekend travelled to the North to visit traditional Labour areas which turned to the Tories, in a clear acknowledgement of their support.
Prof Travers said: “I think he is likely to tack towards a soft Brexit.
“Given that many of the new seats the Tories have won are in areas in the north with manufacturing industries which will need to be shielded from the impact of leaving the EU, he will tend to find himself with little choice.
“This is the end of a long period of instability in British politics going back almost ten years to 2010, unless you count the brief period from 2015 to 2016.
“We will now have a five-year Parliament and Britain will return to stable Government.”
Speaking on Friday morning at a Tory victory rally, Mr Johnson said: “I say to you, in this election your voice has been heard and about time too because we politicians have squandered the last three and a half years in squabbles about Brexit and we have even been arguing about arguing and about the tone of our arguments.
“I want to put an end to all of that nonsense and we will get Brexit done on time by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”
However, even once his withdrawal agreement has been ratified by Parliament, rubber-stamping the UK’s departure, the precise nature of the ongoing nature of the relationship with the bloc is uncertain pending the negotiation of a wide-ranging free trade agreement.
Mr Johnson is likely to be mindful of warnings by France’s President Emmanuel Macron that the more the UK deviates from EU rules and regulations, the less access it will have to the single market.
Speaking yesterday, Mark Francois, who was re-elected as Tory MP for Rayleigh and Wickford with an increased majority and who is the ERG’s deputy chairman, told this website: “No longer does the ink dry on the result, than the media are trying to drive a wedge between the Prime Minister and the ERG.
“It will not work, because the Prime Minister has come up with a strategy to finally get us out of the European Union, which is what most of us in the ERG have desired for most of our adult lives. So the man is a bloody hero!”
ERG chairman Mr Baker, who was also re-elected, in his case as MP for Wycombe, said: “Of course I was prepared for all outcomes but the clear message here and across the country is that we have a strong mandate for Boris’ programme for government.
“We must now bring the country together by successfully delivering the future relationship with the EU which has been agreed.”
They will get Brexit – but it won’t be the clean Brexit they were hoping for