EXCL Brexteers are trying to join the Tories to deselect pro-EU MPs, former Cabinet minister warns
Brexiteers are trying to infiltrate the Conservative party in a bid to deselect pro-Remain MPs, Nicky Morgan has claimed.
The former Cabinet minister said it was “undoubtedly true” that people are seeking to gain membership of the Tory party with a view to ousting prominent pro-EU MPs from Parliament.
Speaking to The House magazine, Ms Morgan said party chair Brandon Lewis and CCHQ have “taken a stand” thanks to pressure from MPs “at risk” who have been prepared to “call this our very, very publicly”.
“There are undoubtedly people joining. What we’re finding is that Jeremy Corbyn is the greatest recruiting sergeant. A lot of people are joining more because of fear of a Labour government than for any other reason,” she said.
“But look, it’s undoubtedly true there are people trying to get into the party who would like nothing more than to deselect Conservatives like me.
“The good news is that actually there are lots of Conservatives – lots of people came up to me last week at our conference – who have said this is something that they would absolutely abhor.”
Her comments come after Sarah Wollaston, the pro-Remain MP for Totnes, urged the Tories to protect themselves against a 1930s-style “extreme takeover” after a pro-Brexit colleague called for her to be deselected.
The Health Committee chair told PoliticsHome it would be a “wake-up call” for the Tories if a “small number of entryists” managed to oust her from her Totnes seat. But she added: “Bring it on.”
She was responding to pro-Brexit MP Conor Burns, who called for an activist fined for breaching electoral campaign rules to replace Ms Wollaston in her Devon constituency.
‘IDEOLOGY TRUMPS EVERYTHING’
Meanwhile, Ms Morgan also railed against reports that Brexiteers could vote against the Budget in protest over the Government’s policy towards leaving the EU.
“Well, I’m afraid nothing surprises me. We’ve seen this over the years, motions in the Cameron government, threats to vote down the Queen’s speech or to amend it and all the rest of it. Again, it all goes to ‘ideology trumps everything’, which is not the way that the rest of the Conservative party sees it.”
She continued: “This is the problem I’m afraid with some of our hardest Brexiteers, which is it’s all about an ideology. That’s what makes me so angry about some of them who are perfectly – they are business people themselves, they understand how the economy works, they know the risks that we’re running…
“And yet, they put Brexit above everything else and their form of Brexit to the extent where they are willing to risk the Conservative party’s economic reputation. That’s where they’ll find an awful lot of members of the Conservative party and parliamentary party, they will push back on that.”
Ms Morgan also said it was “definitely possible” for the Tories to reunite in the future – but it must require comprise and “people have got to want to stay”.
“I knew right from July 2016 that Brexit would be about compromises. We can see the Government has finally got there, but the question is going to be whether the really hard Brexiteers are prepared to compromise,” she added.