Leave.EU chief Arron Banks 'blackballed' from Tory entryist bid
PUBLISHED: 10:33 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:34 04 September 2018
Insurance tycoon Arron Banks has bizarrely claimed that "Brexiteers are not welcome in the Tory party" after his latest bid to join the Conservatives failed.
The former Ukip donor who bankrolled the unofficial leave campaign, along with his spin doctor Andy Wigmore, had sought to join the Tories in North West Leicestershire, the constituency of hard-line Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen.
Leave.EU has launched a push for its supporters to join the Conservative Party to back a Hard Brexiteer candidate such as Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg in any leadership contest to replace Theresa May.
But a Conservative Party spokesman said: "Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore's applications for membership of the Conservative Party have not been accepted."
Banks said the decision "sends a message that Brexiteers are not welcome in the Tory party".
Right-winger Bridgen, a prominent critic of May's leadership, said his local Conservative association was seeking a written explanation from Mr Lewis as to why the two men were being "blackballed".
He said: "I think it's only right there's a written explanation of why Arron Banks - who was a member of the Conservative Party until 2013 and a donor - and Andy Wigmore are being blackballed.
"Just saying 'we're going to reject their membership', that's not how it works and it's not how it should work.
"You can't just blackball people because the current leadership don't like them or feel they might be a threat."
Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore are two of the self-styled 'Bad Boys of Brexit', with close links to former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.