Tory activists threaten to BOYCOTT ‘waste of time and money’ European Parliament elections in protest at Theresa may’s decision to delay Brexit
- The letter, seen by the Daily Mail, accuses the Prime Minister of breaking ‘solemn pledges’ to honour the referendum result and ‘leave the EU on time on March 29’
- The letter says the elections, expected to cost £110million, will be ‘a huge waste of time, money and resources’
- Threat of boycott will raise further doubts about the ability of the cash-strapped Tories to compete against Ukip and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party
Tory activists have threatened to boycott European Parliament elections in protest at Theresa May’s decision to delay Brexit.
Almost 40 Conservative association chairmen have written to her saying they will not take part because it would be ‘inconsistent and unprincipled to do so’.
The letter, seen by the Daily Mail, accuses the Prime Minister of breaking ‘solemn pledges’ to honour the referendum result and ‘leave the EU on time on March 29’.
Almost 40 Conservative association chairmen have written to Theresa May saying they will not take part because it would be ‘inconsistent and unprincipled to do so’
‘It is therefore not surprising that voters [are] mystified and angry that Brexit has not happened. We are already finding it difficult to campaign for the imminent local elections on May 2,’ they write.
The letter says the elections, expected to cost £110million, will be ‘a huge waste of time, money and resources’.
It adds: ‘The British public have no appetite for European elections and simply want politicians to keep their promises and respect the result of the referendum.
‘If European elections go ahead and the Conservative Government carries on regardless, we will not participate.’
Bid to ban Labour’s pro-Brexit hopefuls
by Simon Walters
A Labour move to ban pro-Brexit candidates standing for the party in the European elections was revealed last night.
Labour’s 20 MEPs, who are all Remainers, have urged Jeremy Corbyn to force all candidates to promise to back calls for a second referendum, party sources claimed.
But the move is fiercely opposed by some members of Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, who fear it will drive Brexiteer Labour voters towards Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party or far-Right groups in the May 23 elections.
The row was revealed after Richard Corbett, Labour’s leader in the European parliament, said Mr Corbyn must back a second referendum – or ‘confirmatory vote’ – in its Euro elections manifesto.
Mr Corbett said: ‘If Labour does not reconfirm its support for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal in its manifesto it will haemorrhage votes. If we offer a confirmatory ballot we could do very well.’ A leaked Labour document shows its applicants will not even be interviewed face to face. Instead, to save time, they will be picked this week after a brief chat on the phone with a party official. All main parties are choosing candidates for the Euro elections in which 73 MEPs will be chosen. The bid to block candidates who refuse to back a new referendum threatens to open a new front in the Labour civil war.
A Labour source said: ‘Our MEPs are all pro-Brussels and do not want to fight alongside anti-Brussels Labour candidates because they say it will show the leadership is facing both ways. It will make writing the manifesto impossible.’
A total of 17 Labour MEPs have publicly supported the People’s Vote – even though most represent Leave-supporting constituencies.
The letter has been signed by 36 constituency chairmen from across the country.
The threat of a boycott by activists will raise further doubts about the ability of the cash-strapped Tories to compete against Ukip and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith warned that Mrs May was facing a ‘grassroots revolt’.
He urged her to cancel the vote and take Britain out of the EU without a deal.
He told Sky News: ‘I really urge the Prime Minister to be very clear that we are not fighting the European elections. Any idea of doing that is a disaster.
‘If we make that clear today and say we are going to leave, deal or no deal, before the Euro elections then I think the public would start to snap back and say okay, these people mean business and when we do it, that’s the moment that we’ll end all of the nonsense from these other peripheral parties.’
Former party chairman Norman Tebbit yesterday became the latest high-profile figure to warn he might not vote Conservative if the elections go ahead.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he admitted he had been tempted to vote Ukip in the last Euro elections. ‘In the end, I voted Conservative,’ he said. ‘Now, as I look at the conduct of the Prime Minister, I will find it very hard to do that again.’
Energy minister Claire Perry yesterday said it was still possible that the elections could be cancelled if Parliament passed a Brexit deal after MPs return from their Easter break.
She added: ‘If we can pass a withdrawal agreement in the next three weeks then we will be out and we won’t be fighting the European elections and I agree, it seems really silly and daft to be doing that.’
Mrs May’s deputy David Lidington said talks were progressing with Labour on a possible soft Brexit deal that could still avert the need for the elections.
He said the two sides would ‘take stock’ after Easter before deciding whether a deal is possible. If not, the Government will move to a series of binding votes on other Brexit options, such as a customs union, in a bid to find an approach that can get through Parliament.
Mr Duncan Smith warned against allowing Jeremy Corbyn to ‘dictate’ terms on Brexit, adding that the Labour leader is ‘not fit for government and nor are his policies’.
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