A plot by a pro-EU campaign group to oust 20 hard Brexit MPs has started to unravel after prominent Tory backers quit in disgust.
Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry, Dominic Grieve, Alistair Burt and Neil Carmichael cut their ties with Open Britain after it drew up an “attack list” of mainly Tory MPs including Iain Duncan Smith.
The Telegraph understands that Conservative whips contacted the “remoaner” MPs after reports of the Open Britain hit list were published on Monday night.
Open Britain, which is backed by Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson and run by Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, announced its plans to use 600,000 supporters to campaign against 20 Brexiteer MPs and support 20 Europhile MPs in the general election in the hope of affecting the make-up of the next Parliament.
Of the 20 MPs on the “attack list”, 18 are Conservative, while just one MP on its support list is a Tory.
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Former education secretary Ms Morgan said: “As long standing Conservative party members and MPs it is untenable for us to play any further role in an organisation such as Open Britain, which is advocating campaigning against Conservative MPs or candidates.
“I and we will not be doing so.”
Former minister Ms Soubry said: “This sort of blatant partisanship further divides our country when we must all come together.”
She added: “I’m extremely concerned this is actually about getting Blairites back into Parliament.”
A spokesman for Open Britain said: “It is understandable that during an election campaign political differences between members of different parties become magnified.
“There is no way of getting involved in an election like this without campaigning for or against members of one party or another, so it was always going to disappoint some within a cross-party organisation.”
Richard Tice, co-chairman of Brexit campaigners Leave Means Leave, said: “Open Britain have been in denial about the reality that Britain is leaving the EU. They need to wake up and embrace the democratic decision for Brexit.
“They have continually demonstrated how out of touch they really are. Resigning from Open Britain is the right thing to do.”