Anti-Brexit campaign group barred from Tory party conference

PUBLISHED: 17:52 01 September 2019 | UPDATED: 18:03 01 September 2019

The Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in Manchester, 2017. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images

The Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in Manchester, 2017. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

A pro-EU campaign group has had its applications to join the Conservative Party annual conference turned down, despite having several Tory MP supporters.

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The applications from Best For Britain, including that of its CEO Naomi Smith, were rejected with no explanation from the party, reported the Mirror.

Tory supporters of the group have included Dominic Grieve, Antoinette Sandbach, Guto Bebb, Phillip Lee, and Sam Gyimah.

Smith told the paper: "It appears this administration is running scared of debate.

"We've been barred from voicing widely held concerns about no-deal, parliament has been shut down, and an unelected advisor to the prime minister is on a sacking spree targeting anyone who disagrees with him."

The rejection comes amid nationwide protests over the prorogation of parliament at a time when the government knows it is likely to lose a vote against a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier, senior minister Michael Gove refused to commit the government to following the law if such a bill were passed by both houses.

MORE: Michael Gove refuses to rule out government ignoring the will of parliament on no-deal bill

The move adds to the sidelining of anti-Brexit Tories, who were told that they would be deselected by the central party if they voted against the government on an anti no-deal bill.

"The loss of important moderate Conservatives like Ruth Davidson shows this administration needs to change tack or face becoming a fringe party of extreme Brexit zealots," added Smith, speaking of the resignation of the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who said she stood down for family reasons and was opposed a no-deal Brexit.

This is the second year in a row that the party has barred Best for Britain from attending.

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