General Election 2019: Conservative chairman James Cleverly insists Tories aren't trying to strike a deal with Brexit Party during Portsmouth visit
TORY chairman James Cleverly has denied allegations the Conservatives are trying to woo senior Brexit Party figures into submission by offering them peerages if they bow out of the election.
During a visit to Portsmouth, Mr Cleverly insisted the Conservatives had no desires to strike deals with their eurosceptic rivals, led by Nigel Farage.
Hours earlier Mr Farage had attacked Downing Street, claiming senior figures in his party – like former Tory, Ann Widdecombe – had been offered post-election roles or peerages to tempt them into standing down against the Conservatives ahead of next month’s election.
In a tweet, Mr Farage said: ‘Even Boris Johnson’s Chief Strategic Adviser Sir Edward Lister is calling our candidates and offering them jobs if they withdraw. The system is corrupt and broken.’
However, during a visit to Southsea to meet Tory candidate, Councillor Donna Jones, Mr Cleverly insisted he had no knowledge of any such offers.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘I’m the chairman of the Conservative Party and I have no idea where that claim has come from.
‘Ann Widdecombe was a long-serving Conservative and a former minister so I am not going to start pointing the finger at anybody.
‘Nigel Farage, over and over again, called for us to do a deal and over and over again we said we don’t do deals.’
Last week Councillor Jones, who is running for Portsmouth South, tweeted Mr Farage urging him not to stand a candidate against her.
When questioned about the tweet, Cllr Jones denied this was an attempt to barter a deal and instead insisted it was a ‘request’ to Mr Farage.
Mr Cleverly added the only deal his party was seeking to strike was one for the British people.
‘What we are doing is making an offer to the British people which is if they help us get a sustainable majority Conservative government, we will get Brexit done and then we will make sure parliament will refocus all its efforts on the people’s priorities: schools, hospitals, policing, local economies like here in Portsmouth – that’s the deal we’re offering the British people,’ he said.
Cllr Jones said her number one priority, if elected, was getting Brexit agreed. Then she vowed to focus on bumping up investment in the city’s health services, guaranteeing doctors and dentists appointments in ‘seven days’,
driving up education standards and overhauling the city’s ‘tired’ railway stations.
She added: ‘People know me, I’m a no-nonsense kind of person. When I was leader of the council I didn’t just talk about it – I did it. I generated £10m of new income a year.
‘If I am elected as the MP for Portsmouth South, hopefully working with the brilliant Penny Mordaunt in Portsmouth North, we will be a Conservative powerhouse.’