IT’S time we took a closer look at what the European Research Group (ERG) represents.

As an organisation with goals and ambitions, not much has been written about it or properly explained – until recently that is, when Jacob Rees-Mogg openly declared his leadership of the group. As an unashamedly anti-EU politician, with ambitions for Britain outside of Europe, he seems the perfect match as the chair of this Eurosceptic organisation and their determination to hold the Prime Minister to account on her handling of Brexit

But what sort of beastie is this and what do they actually stand for? Questions need to be asked about the kind of research they have been conducting and why the public, who fund the group, have not been given more information about their work? This is especially pertinent given the leaked information on the UK Government’s analysis of the incredibly negative impact of Brexit on the UK in just about every area.

READ MORE: Has Mundell ‘grossly misled’ Scottish public on Brexit impact report?

Of course, the Scottish Government was ahead of the game on this analysis which they published in their paper two weeks ago, but so far, these two papers are all we’ve got on how Brexit will affect this country. And the fact that they both agree on the disastrous fall in growth and job losses should be a massive red flag to every single voter in this country, regardless of their political affiliations. It seems incredible that these arch ERG Brexiteers, with all their resources and support, haven’t managed to produce details of the magical “dividend” they promised, of why leaving the EU will be so good for the British people.

Until very recently, the ERG was known more for its secrecy than for its membership. This has all changed in post-referendum Britain where, thanks to Leave supporters feeling emboldened to come out in the open and show their faces, any old Tom, Dick or Harriet can check for themselves on Wikipedia who belongs to this mysterious and single-minded group. And it’s quite a roll call of the hard right in the Tory party including Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Andrea Leadsom and Penny Mordaunt to name but a few.

Rees-Mogg took over this month from Suella Fernandes, who, unsurprisingly given her Eurosceptic CV, has been promoted to the Department for Exiting the European Union.

But the ERG has actually been on the go since 1993, not long after Ukip was founded, and worked in tandem with them and other anti-EU groups to challenge the pro-Brussels status quo from the 1990s right up to the present day. The fact that much of this work was carried out behind closed doors until 2018 can’t help but feed suspicion about their actions.

This much we do know – their remit is crystal clear: they are definitely not fans of the soft Brexit option. It’s their way or the highway in terms of negotiations with Brussels and under no circumstances will they countenance staying in the single market, the customs union or any kind of free movement.

Their dream is to free Britain from the shackles of Europe, unfettered and unstifled by EU rules and regulations, regardless of their narrow mandate and regardless of devolved countries like Scotland or Northern Ireland’s democratic decision to stay in the EU.

As far as transition deals go, the ERG is dead against anything other than a final divorce on March 29, 2019. It’s all or nothing. And they are not going to let Theresa May get away with anything more.

Of course, they are in a far more precarious position now that this new Brexit analysis has leaked into the public domain.

These Eurosceptics have always counted on their supporters taking a leap of faith along with them. Without any hard evidence for the benefits of leaving the EU, just Empire 2.0 rhetoric, flag waving, and true-blue soundbites, the ERG was always big on ambition but soft on details. This has carried a large percentage of the voters through from June 2016, but as the truth emerges and lies are revealed, this number will dwindle to just a few hard-line Leavers, happy to let the likes of Rees-Mogg draw castles in the air.

But now this Pinstripe Pretender looks more like a cat that’s been left out in the rain than an heir to the Tory throne. Rees-Mogg and his elite Tory buddies at the ERG are exposed by this new analysis and they seem like a rather pointless organisation who surely would be wasting public funds if they continued. It should be ERG, RIP!

The reality is that their view of a Britannia ruling itself with no outside influences would involve a bonfire of regulations protecting workers’ rights, consumer rights and hard-won human rights.

There is no silver lining, no pill to soften the blow. Even arch right-winger Liam Fox, who is listed as belonging to the ERG, is jumping ship, claiming that Brexiteers will have to “live with the disappointment” and accept a softer Brexit. Chancellor Philip Hammond must be rubbing his hands with glee.