Conservative MP and Boris Johnson supporter calls for new Brexit-backing members to join party

Andrea Jenkyns also said rules should be changed to give members more power over who is chosen as the next leader

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 22 August 2018 14:00
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A Conservative MP and supporter of Boris Johnson has called for her party to allow new Brexit-backing members to join up, amid fears of an entryism threat.

Andrea Jenkyns said the Tories should not be “closing our doors to potential friends” as she also demanded a change in rules to strengthen the power of members to select the next Conservative leader.

The comments from the Morley and Outwood MP follow a move from the pro-Brexit Leave.EU group founded by Arron Banks, to encourage its members to join the Tories ahead of any future leadership contest, and amid speculation that Mr Johnson is preparing for a bid at the top job.

The threat led ex-leader William Hague to urge party chiefs earlier this week to reject calls to alter current rules, which give MPs the power to choose which two candidates are put to a vote of the members in a contest.

Ms Jenkyns denied claims that a change allowing more candidates on the ballot would lead to a Corbyn-style political earthquake in the Tory party.

Writing for The Daily Telegraph she said: “Patriotic voters joining the Tories because they are enthusiastic about Brexit are nothing like people who joined Labour to vote in Corbyn.

“The former represent the majority opinion of the country, the latter imposed a leader on the opposition whose views are not only alien to the vast majority of British voters, but to most Labour voters too.

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“We should not be closing our doors to potential friends when Corbyn is banging on the doors to Number 10.”

Ms Jenkyns said party rules should be changed to allow a “members’ choice” candidate or even a “people’s choice” candidate.

We should not be closing our doors to potential friends when Corbyn is banging on the doors to Number 10

Tory MP for Morley and Outwood Andrea Jenkyns

She added: “Opposing the idea of reform, Lord Hague wrote … that the party would be vulnerable to entryism.

“The question however should not be who is joining, but what will happen if we do not start treating members with respect.”

Lord Hague claimed on Tuesday that changes to rules were being sought by supporters of Boris Johnson, who believe he is more popular with the party members than with Tory MPs.

But he argued that any change to “favour a particular candidate” would be the “worst of all arguments” for reform.

Leave.EU was set up by businessman and ex-Ukip donor Mr Banks to fight the 2016 referendum, but it lost out to the more mainstream Vote Leave in its bid to be the official Brexit campaign group.

It claims to have 88,000 supporters, and is urging them to “flood” the Tory party to elect a “true Brexiteer” such as Mr Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg.

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