The Conservative Party’s membership has ballooned by tens of thousands in a year following Leave.EU’s drive to push for Brexiteers to join so that they can vote in the next Tory leadership contest.
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Around 30,000 new members have joined the Tory Party over the last 12 months, according to The Sun.
And whilst Tory chiefs will of course say this is as a result of their own recruitment, it comes after Leave.EU launched a campaign urging Brexiteers to join in order to help determine who will follow Theresa May as the next Party Leader after she eventually leaves.
One such example was a graphic that put Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg alongside Margaret Thatcher, urging Leavers to sign up and “elect a proper Tory Leader”.
Leave.EU’s Arron Banks responded to news of the membership influx by tweeting: “25 to 30,000 new members came from Leave.EU, that now show up in the official party membership numbers.”
A Conservative official told The Sun that: “We’re not going to be able to stop people joining up just to vote for a new Leader now.
“If Theresa resigned when she intended to, at the end of May, we could have balloted the membership within five or six weeks.
“There’s very little chance of that now Brexit has been pushed back, so the danger is it will become a free for all.”
Whilst Leave.EU’s recruitment campaign has been played down, a number of hardline Remainer MPs have cited a wave of new pro-Leave members joining after the Leave.EU recruitment drive.
Former Tory MP Nick Boles had previously whinged that: “What has happened to me and I think is in the process of happening to others like Dominic Grieve, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry, Mark Pawsey and George Freeman is a sudden influx of ex-UKIP members or ex-UKIP voters actively recruited by the organisations Leave.EU and Leave Means Leave.”
Whilst Anna Soubry cited Leave.EU’s pro-Brexit campaign after she, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen jumped ship and left the party.
Are you a Conservative member with a Remain MP? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your MP deselected!
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) February 20, 2019
Ultra hardline, anti-No Deal Brexit MP Dominic Grieve was also recently hit with a vote of no confidence by his own Tory Association.
Grieve then complained that: “At the meeting there were a very large number of people who had turned up…around 100 of whom I had certainly never seen or met before in my years as a Member of Parliament.
“And there is clear evidence that there was an orchestrated campaign by my UKIP opponent in 2017, who has since joined the Association, with the express intention of trying to come along and defeating the motion.”
It is clear that many Brexiteers signed up to the Tories to help shape the future of the party. Though with Conservative support at its lowest level in years, many are now joining Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.
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