Tory Party Shames Brexiteers in EU Election Campaign Material

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - MAY 03: British Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the Scottish Conservative Party Conference at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on May 3, 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Prime Minister addressed the conference the day after her party lost hundreds of seats in local elections that took place …
Michal Wachucik/Getty

The Conservative Party’s European Parliament election leaflet appears to “name and shame” Brexiteers who have rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU-approved withdrawal treaty.

The leaflet links to a website that names the MPs who voted against Mrs May’s deal, according to The Times, including 34 Tory Brexiteers. The invitation and web address appear in prominent lettering on the back of the leaflet with the caption, “Find out if your Member of Parliament has backed the Brexit deal yet.”

The campaign material, which will be delivered by free-post to every household, also asks “Which MPs are preventing the deal from getting done?” giving a very House of Commons focus to what is supposed to be campaign material for the European Parliament election.

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston said of the leaflets, “This looks like official CCHQ incitement to Tory members to deselect Tory MPs who opposed the PM’s deal — but could massively backfire since so many Tory members hate that deal.”

Conservative Central Headquarters (CCHQ) was accused of lying over the leaflet’s pledge that the EU elections could “be stopped” if MPs back the deal “in time,” with the editor of ConservativeHome Mark Wallace saying, “The official Conservative Euro election mailshot leaflet says twice that passing the deal will prevent the election taking place — in the week the Government says that won’t happen.”

The party machine was also criticised for the document’s failure to mention the benefits of a post-Brexit independent trade policy, or that the United Kingdom will leave the EU Customs Union and Single Market, with its Free Movement migration regime.

Former Parliamentary Private Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who resigned from Government in November 2018 over the draft EU withdrawal agreement, told The Times, “This leaflet seems to contradict what I and Conservative colleagues were elected on in 2017.

“It is of concern to me that our party’s leaflet has failed to include that we will leave the customs union and the single market to ensure we can have an independent trade policy.”

It would not be the first time the prime minster and Tory leadership have blamed party Leavers for the Brexit stalemate. This week, Mrs May disowned her Brexit failure and the party losing more than 1,300 seats in local elections, saying “this is not an issue about me.”

The influential and largely Leave-supporting backbench 1922 Committee has been at odds with the prime minister over her withdrawal treaty — which would force the United Kingdom into a near-two year “transition period” in which the country would be forced to abide by EU rules, and which contains the so-called Irish backstop, which could threaten the integrity of the British Union by leaving Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union.

The BBC recently aired footage of staffers for the European Parliament’s Brexit representative, Guy Verhofstadt, appearing to gloat that the deal “finally turned [Britain] into a colony! And that was our plan from the first moment.”

Backbench MPs challenged May in a confidence vote in December, which she survived.

After May delayed Brexit twice, failed to pass a deal three times, and yet still refused to take the country out of the EU in a clean break, the 1922 Committee has been considering changes to its rules to make it easier to oust her, as current rules protect the party leader from another membership challenge until next December. However, her allies may take the Committee to court to stop her removal, souring the prime minister’s relationship with Brexiteers in the party further.

The Tory Party is set to suffer major losses in the May 23rd election over its failure in government to deliver Brexit, with more than half of those who voted Conservative in the 2017 General Election set to vote for the Brexit Party.

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