Parliament watchdog probes Rees-Mogg’s hard Brexit lobby group over “other sources of funding”

James Cusick, Jenna Corderoy, and Peter Geoghegan - 13 September 2018

Emails released by UK parliamentary standards watchdog reveal a ‘second’ bank account held by the powerful ERG group of Tory MPs, as they pressure May to abandon Chequers.

The UK parliamentary standards watchdog is probing the financial affairs of a group of Tory ultra-Brexiteers, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Brexit Minister Steve Baker, openDemocracy can reveal today.

The European Research Group (ERG) has dominated news headlines this week, with reports of plots to oust prime minister Theresa May if she does not abandon her Chequers plan, and putting forward heavily criticised proposals for the Irish border.

In June, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) wrote to the ERG seeking clarification about how it uses taxpayer money – and other unknown “sources of funding”. IPSA was reacting to concerns about public money being misused to support the ERG’s high-profile political campaign for a hard-line, uncompromised Brexit.

The ERG has received ‘research funds’ (paid out of MPs’ expense claims, and therefore ultimately funded by the taxpayer) from the offices of key current and former cabinet ministers such as Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Grayling, David Gauke and David Davis. The group uses one bank account to lodge the funds received from IPSA for parliamentary ‘research’ services.... See more

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