Portsmouth Tories seek to plot deal with Brexit Party amid General Election threat
TORIES in Portsmouth are plotting to strike a secretive deal with the Brexit Party as the threat of an early general election looms, The News has learnt.
Avid Brexiteers Donna Jones and Penny Mordaunt are seeking to shore up their chances of being elected if an early general election is called before Britain leaves the EU.
It’s understood the pair are considering a ‘joint strategy’ on a potential campaign, which will see Ms Mordaunt battling to keep her Portsmouth North seat and Councillor Jones fighting to overthrow Labour’s Stephen Morgan in Portsmouth South.
Sources claim the pair aim to forge an alliance with the Brexit Party and persuade the Eurosceptic group not to field any candidates in Portsmouth.
The hope is that by not having to fight against Nigel Farage’s group, the Conservatives might be able to score a higher share of the votes and clinch both seats in the city.
A Tory insider said the plan was being discussed although that no formal approaches had been made.
‘Donna and Penny have both been Brexiteers from day one – it makes no sense for the Brexit Party to go against them,’ one source said.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Steve Pitt, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council, hit back and said local parties could not strike deals without being given the thumbs up by their respective national HQs.
‘I’m not surprised by this,’ he told The News. ‘It’s quite clear the national polls show the Conservatives are struggling.
‘I’m sure that they will take whatever measures they feel are necessary to build back support.
‘But we certainly won’t be doing any deals with anyone else. If the Tories feel like this is the only way they can win then they must be in real trouble.’
In Whitehall, new prime minister Boris Johnson shrugged off comments about an early election, saying there would be no such move until after Britain left the EU on Halloween.
But earlier this week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn threatened his party would trigger a no-confidence vote in Mr Johnson ‘at a time of their choosing’.
However, with parliament now broken up, no such vote could take place until September at the earliest.
New Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson accused Mr Corbyn of ‘aiding and abetting’ a Conservative Brexit by refusing to push for an immediate no-confidence vote.
While Labour hit back and accused the Lib Dems of ‘childish and irresponsible game-playing’.
The News approached the Brexit Party and Portsmouth Labour for comment.