Artillery Row

IPSA That Man Again

In the future, everyone will be a WAG admin for 15 groups

The creation of the Covid Recovery Group means the Parliamentary Conservative Party has now reached Critical WhatsApp Group, the point at which political scientists say new political groupings will spontaneously form every time two MPs share a lift. Things are so bad that on Radio 4 longwave, you can now get a daily five-minute report on these factions from the Met Office (“China Research Group: moderate or rough, occasionally very rough later”) known as the Whipping Forecast.

But what are the key Tory WhatsApp groups, and are YOU leading one of them? The Critic is proud to present a cut-out-and-keep* guide to the wild ganglands of Westminster.

*Tory MPs should note that this is only an expression, and should not attempt to use scissors on their iPads.

European Research Group

The original and best of the Tory factions, the ERG kept us all on the edges of our seats between 2017 and 2019 by insisting that Brexit would only mean Brexit when the Union Flag was fluttering over the Brandenburg Gate. The group takes its name from its focus on research into how the European Union works – it is vehemently opposed to such research, and determined to root out understanding wherever it finds it.

Although the ERG tends to have a party line, it can be a loose grouping. Last year frontmen Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson decided that the best way to oppose Theresa May’s Brexit deal was to vote for it. A hardline inner group is known as the “Spartans”, after the Greek warriors who agreed to let the Persian leader Xerxes go past them at Thermopylae, before complaining a year later that they hadn’t actually read the detail of his proposal to put a border in the Aegean.

Boris Research Group

Having installed Boris Johnson as prime minister last year, some Tory MPs think now might be the time to find out a bit about him. Current research topics include: “What the bloody hell has he done now?” and “Why should I get killed defending that idiot’s policy when he’ll only go and change it?”

Dom Advanced Research Projects Agency

Not strictly a Tory MP project, as he doesn’t know who any of them are, this “skunkworks” was set up inside Number 10 by Dominic Cummings. It has a staff of one, Cummings himself, after press inquiries forced its Brazilian intern, Joe Mengele, to quit. Past projects include “novel means of testing eyesight” and “is there anything Matt Hancock won’t say?” Current focus: “can I edit this blogpost in a way that no one will be able to prove?”

Rishi Research Group

The only research group to be led by the person it’s supposed to be researching, the Rishi Research Group is less of a faction, and more of a mood. With beautifully designed graphics and delicious hors d’oeuvres, the group is asking “can I get you a refill?” and “how do you feel things are going?”

Real Rishi Research Group

Made up of Dominic Cummings, Michael Gove and Dominic Raab, this outfit is mainly interested in working out how the bastard keeps getting away with it, and how to stop him. Focus: “I thought you said he’d be a patsy” and “Surely Ashcroft managed to dig something up?”

Northern Research Group

Where is it? How far is that from town? Really? Good God. Every weekend? The children could still go to school in town? Do I need my own whippet, or would one be supplied?

English Channel Research Group

Formed to support Dominic Raab during his brief stint as Brexit Secretary, this geography-focused group of Tory MPs wants answers to the questions “so we’re an island, then?” and “are you sure?”

Displacement Activity Research Group

With everything really going about as well as it could be going, these Conservatives are thinking about the issues that matter. Current topics include: “Would a Chief of Staff help?” “What colour should the backdrop be for the televised briefings?” “Could those deckchairs be better arranged?”

Research Groups Research Group

Made up of Lobby correspondents trying to keep track of the current era of political stability, the RGRG aims to find the fastest means of getting from a Tory pressing “New Group” on their phone to 400 words appearing in the paper. Asking the question: “Have you heard about Steve Baker’s latest outfit? No, the other one. No, the other other one.”

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