Brexiteers accused of "planning a coup" against Theresa May

PUBLISHED: 14:06 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:06 03 July 2018

Jacob Rees-Mogg: absolutely not plotting

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Brexiteers have been accused by a former Tory minister of "planning a coup" against Theresa May.

Bracknell MP Phillip Lee called for "courageous, rational leadership" after reports in the Daily Express that supporters of Jacob Rees-Mogg had amassed a £750,000 fund to fight a leadership campaign if Theresa May is forced out.

Dr Lee, who quit the Government in June to vote against it on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, tweeted: "We need courageous, rational leadership to get our country successfully through £Brexit: courage to stand up for what's right for our country; rationality to take decisions based on reality and evidence, not dreams and dogma.

"The last thing we need is a leadership challenge. But when an MP & his supporters have collected £750k to do just that, there is no doubt that Brexiteers are planning a coup. I call on other rational members of the party to stand against this nonsense."

The Express, which has been a cheerleader for Mr Rees-Mogg's ambitions, reported that plans for his leadership bid were quite advanced and that another pro-Brexit Tory MP plus a former Ukip member had raised more than £750,000 for a campaign, as well as appointing a PR firm to run it.

The paper claimed the strategy involving recruiting “pro-Brexit and socially conservative” people as well as ex-Ukip members to ensure Mr Rees-Mogg had the support of the Tory membership – crucial if he became one of the two final candidates in any leadership election.

It quoted a "senior Tory figure" as saying: “We have given up on Theresa May and the current Cabinet. The membership love Jacob. He is the only one standing up for true Conservative values.

“It’s obvious Britain is going to be sold out by the Government on Brexit because none has the backbone to do the job properly. Jacob Rees-Mogg is the only man who can save Brexit and we need him as leader.”

Another backer was quoted as saying: “It is telling that liberal Remainer elites have tried to demonise Jacob. They know he is the real threat to them.

“His honesty and integrity are rare things in politics and people like it when they see it.”

Mr Rees-Mogg has said he was “unaware” of a leadership fund.

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