Northern Ireland news

Email list reveals DUP ex-chief of staff among 'senior' ERG circle

Former DUP chief of staff Christopher Montgomery

THE DUP's ex-chief of staff and former secretaries of state are part of a ‘senior' circle of the influential pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG), according to freshly-released British government information.

Campaign group openDemocracy has acquired details of the recipients of a July 2017 email in which then-Brexit minister Steve Baker offered to brief "a smaller more senior group" within the ERG on a key piece of government legislation relating to withdrawal from the EU.

The highly-influential Eurosceptic ERG, headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, refuses to publish a list of members, though many make no secret of their association.

Among the recipients of the former Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) minister's email are one-time Tory secretaries of state Theresa Villiers and Owen Paterson, both of who have previously been publicly linked to the ERG.

The list also includes current Northern Ireland Office under secretary John Penrose and former DUP chief of staff Christopher Montgomery, a Derry-born ex-journalist who alongside Nigel Dodds was a DUP representative on the board of the Vote Leave campaign.

Other recipients of the email, which DExEU repeatedly refused to release under Freedom of Information legislation until ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner, include former Labour minister and Social Democratic Party leader (Lord) David Owen, ex-Tory cabinet ministers Nigel Lawson, Norman Lamont, and Michael Forsyth, along with veteran Eurosceptics Bill Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin.

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