A leading donor behind the Brexit victory has pledged to fund a campaign to oust almost 140 pro-Remain MPs in an attempt to ensure there is “no backsliding on Brexit” after the election.
Jeremy Hosking, the multimillionaire City asset manager, told the Observer he was prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds targeting MPs who backed staying in the EU, despite representing areas that voted for Brexit.
The move is designed to exploit divisions in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party over Brexit and to seize seats that usually return a Labour MP.
Hosking, who gave more than £1.5m to Vote Leave during the referendum campaign, said he wanted to help give Theresa May “an army” of pro-Brexit MPs that was “fully equipped and as big as possible”.
Tory candidates in 138 constituencies where most voters backed Brexit but which are represented by an opposition Remain MP will be eligible to apply for funding. Hosking is offering up to £5,000 per candidate, leaving him with a potential bill of about £700,000 for the project.
The bulk of the campaign will be aimed at helping the Tories secure seats in the Midlands and northern England that have regularly returned a Labour MP. Hosking said that “traditional Labour voters should on this occasion hold their nose and vote Tory” to help deliver Brexit.
The campaign has potential implications for the internal make-up of the parliamentary Conservative party after the election.