Pro-European Union (EU) Tory MPs are concerned about UKIP “entryism” after reporting a sharp rise in new members at local party branches.
The former UKIP donor and Leave.EU founder Arron Banks last week encouraged UKIP members to join the Conservatives to influence a future leadership contest and push a clean Brexit.
Local Tory Party branches represented by pro-EU MPs including Stephen Hammond, Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubry, Nicky Morgan, and Sarah Wollaston have all reported a recent jump in membership.
One Conservative MP told The Times on Tuesday that their local party membership had jumped from 170 to 221 in three months, as the Tory Prime Minister pushed her vision of a “soft Brexit” tied to many of the bloc’s rules.
Two other branches reported increases of 10 percent in just two weeks and 30 percent over three months, while another reported a rise of 60 members over the summer as Theresa May tried to get the bloc to accept her ‘Chequers plan’.
POLL: More Tories See Farage as a ‘Brexit Leader’ Than May https://t.co/V7o6qJ54Ed
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 17, 2018
Ms Soubry said Tuesday: “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.”
Polls have shown that Mrs May’s ‘soft Brexit’ plan is unpopular with the public, including with Conservative Party voters.
Double the number of voters want a clean break from the EU than the number who want to follow the Prime Minister’s plan, a survey showed in mid-July.
This included 51 percent of Tory voters who wanted a clean, so-called “no deal” Brexit.
A week later, a separate poll showed British voters overwhelmingly opposed Mrs May’s plan for a “soft” Brexit and that almost a third of voters are prepared to back a new, right-wing party committed to a clean Brexit.