Watch: Tom Hunt signs in as Ipswich MP - and joins Conservatives in ERG
PUBLISHED: 16:30 18 December 2019
New Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has formally signed in at the Palace of Westminster - and one of the first things he did there was join the anti-EU European Research Group of Conservative MPs.
The ERG is the group that organised opposition to Theresa May's Withdrawal Deal, which helped ensure the UK did not leave the EU in March last year.
However it backed Boris Johnson's plan to come out of the EU, which is due to be put before the House of Commons at the end of the week.
Mr Hunt said the ERG was a group of MPs who researched how to change Britain's relationship with the EU.
He said: "The ERG is very supportive of the prime minister and his deal to withdraw Britain from the EU. I think the deal we have now is much better than the one we had before - and we will be working to get this through."
During the election debates earlier this year, it was claimed that the ERG was a "party within a party" - Mr Hunt said that was not the case.
"There is no whipping within the ERG. We don't all have to vote in a certain way. The group exists to share research and for members to support each other."
Mr Hunt is not the only MP with local connections in the ERG. Harwich and North Essex member Sir Bernard Jenkin is a senior member of the group and former Suffolk county councillor and new MP for Aberconwy in Wales, Robin Millar, also featured in the group photograph published by the ERG.
On Wednesday Mr Hunt had to spend the morning at an induction session at the parliamentary offices in Portcullis House opposite the Palace of Westminster before returning to the chamber of the House of Commons to formally swear in as an MP.
"They do it in order of seniority - Father of the House, cabinet ministers and other senior MPs before you sign in according to when you were elected," he said.
"They actually got everything sorted reasonably quickly so I got in sooner than I had expected."
All the MPs had to be sworn in before the House of Commons formally gathers for the slimmed-down State Opening of Parliament on Thursday before MPs get down to discussing the government's Withdrawal Bill to take Britain out of the EU on Friday - ministers hope it will have cleared most of its passage through the House before Christmas.