Tory HQ vetoes MP's attempt to get Brexiteer Arron Banks into the party
A Conservative MP’s bid to allow Arron Banks into the party has been slapped down by Tory central office, just weeks after the ex-Ukip donor’s initial application was rejected.
Brexiteer backbencher Andrew Bridgen’s move was reportedly undone after he defied the party hierarchy by allowing the pair to join his local Conservative association.
Leave.EU founder Mr Banks and his associate Andy Wigmore had tried to gain Tory membership by joining the North West Leicestershire association after their attempt last month to apply through central office was knocked back.
However in a fresh blow, party insiders told Sky News that membership applications are subject to review by both the main party and constituencies ahead of final approval.
A Conservative spokesman said: "Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore's applications for membership of the Conservative Party have not been accepted."
Mr Bridgen has been a consistent critic of Mrs May, and has already submitted a letter to the Conservative 1922 committee, in a bid to oust her as PM.
Meanwhile Mr Banks, an ally of ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage, last month said he was trying to join the Tories because he believed a leadership battle was coming soon.
“We believe that the battle for Brexit is now within the Conservative party,” he told the Westmonster website.
Mr Wigmore said he wanted to join the Conservatives “to ensure that if there is a leadership contest then I can influence the type of leader the country and the Tory party need”.
He added: “We need a Brexit leader, one who believes in Brexit and will deliver what 17.4 million people voted for.”