Brandon Lewis hailed former Ukip activists in their attempt to shift the Tory leadership (Image: GETTY)
An influx of new hardline Brexiteer members are signing up to the Conservative Party in an apparent response to a call from the Leave.EU campaign to “put spine back into the Tory party” and “elect a true Brexiteer”.
In a tweet, the pro-Breixt group said: “Fed up of how this weak ‘Conservative’ Government has handled Brexit?
“A leadership contest is inevitable. Join the huge number of our members already flooding the Tory party, ready to elect a true Brexiteer.”
In leaked messages seen by the Evening Standard Mr Lewis described former Ukip members in his Great Yarmouth constituency, who were joining the Conservatives, as “superb” and labelled the membership increase as “good news”.
In the messages, which are thought to show Mr Lewis replying to another MP who was discussing “kippers”, a nickname for Ukip voters, the Tory chairman spoke about former Ukip councillors who had recently joined the Conservative party.
He said: “I have a number of ex-Ukip councillors who joined late last year and are superb members and activists.”
Mr Lewis’s constituency voted 71 percent in favour of quitting the EU.
The former Minister of State for Immigration added: “CCHQ has been working hard on a recruitment drive over the last few months.
Leave.EU have called for their supporters to elect a 'true Brexiteer' like Jacob Rees-Mogg (Image: Leave.EU/Twitter)
Jacob Rees-Mogg is tipped as a future Conservative party leader and potential Prime Minister (Image: GETTY)
Boris Johnson has positioned himself as a 'true Brexiteer' and potential replacement for Theresa May (Image: GETTY)
“I wrote to all colleagues a while ago to ask for your help with this, alongside associations and campaign managers, and all that work has seen a steady rise in our membership.
“Which is good news for us all.”
Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan - a staunch Remainer - argued Mr Lewis should “be very alive” to attempts to join by those seeking to sway the party’s