Anna Soubry accuses Tory constituency chair of plotting to get rid of her with false claims of Brexit clashes

'These emails are part of a concerted, coordinated campaign organised by UKIP/Leave.EU'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 29 June 2018 15:17 BST
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Anna Soubry has accused the head of her local Tory party of making misleading claims that members oppose her Brexit stance, in a plot to oust her fuelled by Ukip.

The leading pro-EU Conservative MP has hit out at John Doddy after he launched a survey and claimed that 80 per cent of early replies said members were “unhappy” with her.

In fact, none of 17 critical emails that triggered the survey had come from a Tory member in her seat of Broxtowe, in Nottinghamshire, she said – and only person actually lived in the constituency.

In a leaked letter, Ms Soubry protested that Dr Doddy, a local GP, had failed to investigate that “the wording in them all bear marked similarities”.

“I have also spoken to fellow Conservative MPs; it is believed that these emails are part of a concerted, coordinated campaign organised by UKIP/Leave.EU,” she wrote.

Ms Soubry has complained to Brandon Lewis, the Tory party chairman, that Mr Doddy had chosen to “exploit” the issue, in a bid to take her job.

However, the clash will come to a head at an emergency meeting of Broxtowe members that the MP herself has called for the end of July.

The constituency voted Leave, but Ms Soubry has emerged as a champion of the UK staying in both the EU single market and customs union.

The former minister has also backed a further referendum on any withdrawal deal that Theresa May secures – and even threatened to quit the Tories if the prime minister pursues a hard Brexit.

Nevertheless, in her letter, Ms Soubry insisted she had received “thousands of emails of support” – including more than 150 from her constituents.

She told The Independent: “Broxtowe Conservatives have always been a very sensible and moderate Conservative association.

“Obviously, there are members who are not happy with my views on Brexit but, in my experience, when I sit them down and explain what I actually voted for, they don’t have a problem.”

The Independent has approached Mr Doddy, asking him to respond to the accusation that he is plotting to replace Ms Soubry.

There have been claims that other pro-EU Conservatives, critical of Ms May’s Brexit policies, are facing attempts to deselect them.

In the letter, Ms Soubry had been able to establish quickly that the critical emails seized on by Mr Doddy had not been sent by local people and had been coordinated.

“You made no such enquiries and a responsible Association Chairman would have,” the MP wrote.

And she added: “They are all inaccurate in their claims about my views on Brexit and most are offensive”. Some called her a “traitor”.

In her separate letter, calling the crisis meeting for 28 July, the MP pointed out that she had been praised by some cabinet ministers for her “courage” in fighting a hard Brexit.

“I will continue to support the Prime Minister towards this soft Brexit. I believe this is her aim,” Ms Soubry wrote.

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