A Brexit Party MEP has told the chairman of the Conservative party to move to Venezuela if he cannot stand other parties running against his.
In a fiery opening to BBC Question Time, MEP Alexandra Phillips expressed her anger at the Conservatives trying to convince Brexit Party candidates to stand down in the election.
She told viewers: “What we have witnessed in the last few weeks, and actually today especially, this key moment in this electoral cycle when we are meant to be sending forth candidates to meet a deadline to say they are standing in this constituency.
“There has been an operation coming out of CCHQ, coming out of 10 Downing Street.
“What is under the Tory tree this Christmas – is it a peerage, is it penance? Have you been naughty, have you been nice?
“They have been interfering in our selection of candidates, our placing of candidates, they have been incentivising people to step down.
“It has been interference on an industrial scale. They have been acting like feudal overlords frankly.
“They think that suffrage that is universal if it just applies to their party. What are they afraid of?”
Turning to chairman James Cleverly, she continued to explain: “They have had to go after thousands of phone calls to individual candidates in the Brexit Party to say ‘stand down you can get this’ or ‘stand down or this’. Leave us alone.
“If you can’t win on your own merits then really you shouldn’t be a chairman of a party in this country, go to Venezuela.
“This is a multiparty state and you have to get used to this.”
Phillips said she had received scores of messages from candidates saying they were receiving “titbits” and “promises” and “lord knows what else” to try to convince them to stand down.
She said she was in agreement with other smaller parties that feared a “duopoly” situation was taking presidence.
Cleverly, pressed by host Fiona Bruce, on whether he was categorically denying the calls had taken place said: “No”.
To jeers, he continued: “I tell you what would have happened, there are number people who have gone to the Brexit Party who up until very recently were Conservatives.
“I have no doubt Conservatives will have spoken to people they know locally and said ‘if you genuinely want to deliver Brexit, the only way to do that is by delivering a Conservative majority’.
“And I have no doubt conversations have been happening up and down the country, but as chairman of the Conservative Party I have no truck with pacts or agreements”.