Anna Soubry calls on Tories to halt membership drive amid Ukip infiltration fears
A former minister has urged Tory chairman Brandon Lewis to suspend a membership drive amid fears Ukip supporters are using it to infiltrate the party.
Anna Soubry said "hard Brexiteers" were trying to sign up to the Conservatives in order to "topple the leader and destroy government policy".
It emerged last week that Tory bosses had blocked a membership application by Arron Banks, a former big-money donor to Ukip who helped lead the campaign to leave the EU.
He had said he wanted to vote for a pro-Brexit candidate in any upcoming Tory leadership contest.
The Times reports today that pro-EU Tory MPs are seeing large increases in party membership numbers in their areas - prompting Anna Sounbry to speak out.
She said: "We are on a membership drive at the same time as the likes of Banks are urging members of Ukip and other hard Brexiteers to join our party to topple the leader and destroy government policy.
"I’ve called on the party chairman to end the membership drive until we can be confident we are not being infiltrated by people who are not Conservatives."
Some Conservatives point to the way former supporters of the Greens and left-wing parties joined Labour in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn to be party leader in 2015, and say the same could happen to them.
A Conservative source told The Times: "We have been driving up membership numbers steadily since the start of the year."