Well over 100 of the Conservatives’ 361 MPs are aligned with one or more of a string of internal pressure groups. Here are the main ones:
Peter Walker www.theguardian.com
Covid Recovery Group
Led by the former chief whip Mark Harper and the former Brexit minister Steve Baker, the CRG’s size and opposition to new Covid rules is essentially the reason why England has notably fewer restrictions than other UK nations. While informal in structure, the CRG has organised and disciplined messaging, employing an external PR consultant. Support estimated at 80 to 100 MPs.
Net Zero Scrutiny Group
Set up in the lead-up to the Cop26 climate summit, its members insist they are not climate emergency sceptics but believe policies such as emissions targets and the phasing out of conventional cars have not been fully thought out and will adversely affect poorer Britons. The NZSG has 18 MPs as public supporters and claims “many” more.
Common Sense Group
Partly based around culture war issues, and what its chair, the Tory backbencher John Hayes, terms a struggle against “subversives” such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion, its 136-page policy booklet sets out ideas on everything from immigration to the legal system and family life. Sixteen MPs contributed to the booklet.
Blue Collar Conservatism
Originally launched by Esther McVey in parallel with her brief leadership bid to succeed Theresa May, with policies including redirecting foreign aid to domestic priorities, it boasts 159 MPs as official supporters including several cabinet ministers. However, it is less active in terms of openly agitating for policy change.
Northern Research Group
Led by the former Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, this is a geographical faction aimed at boosting spending and investment in the north of England, north Wales and Scottish borders. More than 50 members.
All-party group on fair fuel
Very low key, and not officially a party faction, as it has two Labour members and one from the DUP. But it is Tory-dominated, and is arguably the most financially significant pressure group anywhere in the UK. It has been central to parliamentary and media efforts to keep fuel duty frozen for 11 years and counting, a policy that has cost the Treasury somewhere north of £100bn.
European Research Group
The model for the other factions. Set up in 1993, gradually moving from being the voice of Euroscepticism to that of hardline Brexiters. Hugely influential in the Commons revolts that saw off May’s limited Brexit compromises, and then ejected her from Downing Street. Largely quiet now, in part as many members have moved on to other pressure groups.