Jacob Rees-Mogg urges angry Brexiteers to join Tories and 'take back control'
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has called on voters angry with Theresa May's Chequers deal to "take back control" by joining the Conservatives.
The Prime Minister is facing a growing backlash from Eurosceptics over her plan to maintain close economic ties with Brussels and avoid a hard border in Ireland.
As ministers prepared to spell out more details on the controversial proposal, Mr Rees Mogg - who chairs the powerful European Research Group of Brexiteer MPs - urged members of the public to sign up to the Conservatives and reclaim "our party".
"People shouldn't leave the party at a moment like this," he told The Telegraph.
"It is our party. It isn't Theresa May's party, it wasn't David Cameron's party, it is our party.
"People should consider joining or rejoining so we can take back control of party policy and ensure that we get the right Brexit."
That was echoed by fellow Tory Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen, who urged "anyone who is not a socialist to join the Conservative Party".
He added: "If they want Brexit, join and then petition your local association for change. We’re fighting for the heart and soul of the party, and the deal we agree with the EU will be in perpetuity."
Mr Bridgen this week submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister, accusing Mrs May of "insulting the intelligence" of the British people with the Chequers compromise.
Under the plan - which has already triggered the resignations of Cabinet heavyweights Boris Johnson and David Davis - the UK and EU would agree a "common rule book" on regulations, enter into a free trade area for goods and strike a so-called "facilitated customs arrangement" with Brussels.
Launching the Government's White Paper on the plan today, new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the Chequers deal would help businesses by keeping "frictionless trade in goods between the UK and the EU" while avoiding "compromising the EU’s autonomy or the UK's sovereignty".
But Brexiteers in the party have already launched a bid to torpedo the proposals, tabling a string of amendments to the Government's Trade Bill, which is set to return to the House of Commons next week.
Their fresh call for a surge in Tory membership will be seen as a coded warning to Mrs May after a tumultuous week for her premiership.
Several MPs are already understood to have submitted letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister, although the signatures of 48 would be needed to trigger a vote on her leadership.
After that, 149 MPs would have to vote against Mrs May to depose her and trigger a leadership contest.
However, new Tory members would be unable to vote in any leadership contest until the end of a three-month cooling off period.
According to the latest figures, the Tories have just 124,000 members, compared to 552,000 for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.