Richard Tice is targeting potential Tory defectors urging them to “put country before party” and join Reform UK. The party has sent a mail-out to Conservative councillors in a bid to get them to jump ship following weeks of turmoil during Liz Truss’s short-lived premiership.
A hotline has been set up which Reform UK claims has had “quite a bit of interest”.
The party has said switchers from the Tories would be at the “front of the queue” for selection to a parliamentary constituency, Guido Fakes reports.
It comes after the party confirmed last week it already had 550 candidates ready to stand in a general election.
Meanwhile, Reform UK says it has seen an increase in membership in recent weeks.
A source said “many thousands” Conservative supporters are now paid-up members of the party.
It claims to have pinched around five to 10 percent of Tory members.
It comes after some Conservative members threatened to leave the party last month after Rishi Sunak took over as leader without a vote following the withdrawal of Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt from the race.
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of Conservative think tank the Bow Group, told the Telegraph: “The Conservative Party is going to lose tens of thousands of members as a result of what has happened today, and for those that remain it will make them less likely to want to go out and knock on doors at the next election.
“The fact that it was a coronation is a terrible advert for the Conservative Party and the nation.
“We are in a situation now where we need a general election so the new Prime Minister has some sort of mandate.
“Membership numbers have plummeted since David Cameron took over, and after this, it will be down to 100,000. And that’s a problem.”
Reform UK’s bid to secure Tory defectors comes after it saw its highest-ever polling last week.
A survey by People Polling put Nigel Farage’s former party on seven percent, two points more than the Greens and two points behind the Lib Dems.
Mr Tice said: “Delighted that Reform UK now at highest polling yet, moving well ahead of Greens and catching Lib Dems.”
Reform UK changed its name from the Brexit Party in January 2021 following the UK’s departure from the EU.
It came after the party swept to victory in the 2019 European elections.
But it stood aside in 317 Tory-held seats at the 2019 general election, which was a landslide for the Conservatives under Boris Johnson.