It is being described in Westminster as 'the end of the Spartans' – the brigade of veteran Tory backbenchers who battled for Brexit and made Theresa May's life a misery but ended up dying on the hill of Owen Paterson's business interests.
But just as Spartan society collapsed in ancient Greece when it was sacked by the Visigoths in 396 AD, so the likes of former Cabinet Minister David Davis and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg are facing the fury of the new generation of 'Red Wall' MPs: they are raging about the amount of political capital they spent trying to protect Mr Paterson from the consequences of breaching lobbying rules over his £500,000 of outside earnings.
Those close to Downing Street, where Boris Johnson's allies were shaken by the scale of the uproar over the Paterson saga, predict that it will catalyse a generational changing of the guard within the parliamentary party. A source said: 'They started with good intentions, but as so often with the Spartan MPs, it was ill-thought through and ultimately self-defeating. They have lost the confidence of the new generation in the Commons.'
'The Spartans' – a warrior class – was the name given to the most hardcore members of the European Research Group (ERG) who pressurised David Cameron into calling the EU referendum and then defied Mrs May over the Brexit deal she tried to negotiate with Brussels, securing a harder Brexit and helping to pave the way for Mr Johnson's premiership.
In Government, blame for the fiasco is being placed at the feet of Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured), Chief Whip Mark Spencer and No 10 Political Secretary Declan Lyons.
In September, the core members met at the Carlton Club for a reunion dinner of smoked trout salad with boiled quail's egg, capers and cucumber followed by lamb rump with confit peppers, sun-dried tomato and couscous.
There have been no such celebratory