This weekend Arron Banks, the insurance tycoon who bankrolled both UKIP and Leave.eu, has launched a vitriolic campaign to deselect Remain-supporting Tory MPs who represent ‘Leave’ constituencies.

He said the aim of his campaign, called ‘The Blue Wave UK’, was to “make the Conservatives Conservative again”.

Mr Banks and his spin doctor, Andy Wigmore, have Tweeted a series of attacks against Tory MPs who have “hinted support” for a second referendum.

His new campaign has funding, he says, of £250,000 from individual donations.

Mr Banks, who had his application to join the Conservative party blocked by the party’s chairman, Brandon Lewis, said:

“We will spend this money launching an all-out assault on those who are anti-Brexit, starting with anti-democratic Tory MPs who have been trying to undermine the referendum result.”

He added, “We’ve begun by targeting Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe and chairman of the House of Commons select committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“Next week we will write to every voter in his constituency urging them to join the Conservative Party so that they can deselect him.”

He went on, “Next, we intend to write to every voter in Amber Rudd’s Hastings and Rye seat calling for them to join the Tories in order to deselect her.

“Having previously claimed she would respect the referendum result, Ms Rudd told ITV’s ‘Peston’ programme on September 26 that she would “absolutely” back a second referendum.

“We think this is disgraceful.”

But Remain-supporting Tory MPs have hit back at Mr Banks’ tactics.

Former Tory defence minister Guto Bebb, MP, a target of attack by Mr Banks commented, “To be attacked by Arron Banks is something I take with pride. We want a people’s vote because the likes of Mr Banks stole the last one.”

Former Tory minister Nicky Morgan MP, who has also been singled out for attack, Tweeted in response to Mr Banks:

“Adverts threatening the position of MPs elected and re-elected are anti-democratic and desperate – as Brandon Lewis and Conservatives have made clear there is no place for you in our party.”

Reasons2Remain considers that Mr Banks attempts to have Tory MPs deselected are despicable.

However, we do agree with his campaign’s slogan, “Make the Conservatives Conservative again”, but for entirely the opposite reasons to him.

 It’s because of Conservatives that the UK applied to join the European Community in the first place.

 It’s because of Conservatives that the UK eventually joined the European Community.

 It’s because of Conservatives that support for Britain’s continued membership of the European Community was won by a landslide in the first referendum in 1975.

 It’s because of Conservatives, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, that the Single Market of Europe came into existence.

 The Conservative government in the 2016 referendum officially supported the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.

 Most Conservative MPs voted for Remain in the referendum.

So, when Arron Banks calls for Conservatives to be Conservative again, we say yes please.

Since the European Community was founded in 1957, with just one exception, the passionate resolve of all past Conservative Prime Ministers was that Britain should join it and remain in it.

That one exception is today’s Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Mrs May is Britain’s only Prime Minister ever to go against membership of the European Union and the cherished Single Market of Europe.

Some argue that Conservatives of today are not the same as Conservatives of yesterday. They have become more like UKIP.

Indeed, shortly after Mrs May became Prime Minister, the then UKIP MEP, Roger Helmer, told BBC Radio 4:

“I like what Theresa May is doing.

“She seems to have picked up about 90% of UKIP’s programme. In some ways, she’s gone far beyond what we would have done.”

Theresa May is taking Britain out of the EU, whereas all previous Prime Ministers (both Tory and Labour) wanted Britain to be in.

If only today’s Conservative MPs – and today’s Tory Prime Minister – were true Conservatives of the past, then the party that championed our membership of the European Community would not now be relishing the prospect of Britain’s departure from it.

 WINSTON CHURCHILL: It was one of the Tory party’s greatest leaders, Winston Churchill, who passionately promoted the ‘Union of Europe as a whole’ and is recognised as a founder of the European Union.

When in in 1961 Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, applied for Britain to join the European Community, Churchill wrote:

“I think that the Government are right to apply to join the European Economic Community..”

He added, “We might well play a great part in these developments to the profit of not only ourselves, but of our European friends also.”

 HAROLD MACMILLAN: In a pamphlet explaining to the nation why Britain had applied to join the European Community in 1961, Prime Minister Macmillan wrote:

“By negotiating for British membership of the European Economic Community and its Common Market, the present Conservative Government has taken what is perhaps the most fateful and forward looking policy decision in our peacetime history.

“We did not do so lightly. It was only after a searching study of all the facts that we came to accept this as the right and proper course.”

Mr Macmillan continued, “By joining this vigorous and expanding community and becoming one of its leading members, as I am convinced we would, this country would not only gain a new stature in Europe, but also increase its standing and influence in the councils of the world.”

 SIR ALEC DOUGLAS-HOME: Mr Macmillan’s successor, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, was briefly prime minister for one year from 1964. He supported Britain’s application to join the European Community. Sir Alec said:

“I have never made it a secret that I cannot see an alternative which would offer as good a prospect for this country as joining the E.E.C. [European Community].”

And he also stated, “I am acutely conscious that there are two questions which have to be asked: not only whether we should go in, but what is the prospect for Britain if we stay out. Those two questions have to be asked because, whether we are in or out, the Community goes on.”

 EDWARD HEATH: It was Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, who joined Britain to the European Community following the backing of Parliament after 300 hours of debate (contrast that with the scant time given to Parliament by the current Conservative government to debate the triggering of Article 50 and the European Withdrawal Bill.)

On the evening of 28 October 1971, Mr Heath addressed the House of Commons during the momentous debate on Britain joining the European Community. He said:

“Surely we must consider the consequences of staying out. We cannot delude ourselves that an early chance would be given us to take the decision again.

“We should be denying ourselves and succeeding generations the opportunities which are available to us in so many spheres; opportunities which we ourselves in this country have to seize.

“We should be leaving so many aspects of matters affecting our daily lives to be settled outside our own influence. That surely cannot be acceptable to us.

“We should be denying to Europe, also – let us look outside these shores for a moment – its full potential, its opportunities of developing economically and politically, maintaining its security, and securing for all its people a higher standard of prosperity.”

Mr Heath added, “..tonight when this House endorses this Motion many millions of people right across the world will rejoice that we have taken our rightful place in a truly United Europe.”

Parliament did endorse the Motion, and Britain subsequently joined the European Economic Community on 1 January 1973.

 MARGARET THATCHER: Two years later, in 1975, the Labour government offered the British people a referendum on whether the country should stay in the European Community. Tory leader and future Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, strongly campaigned for the country to remain in the Community.

In a keynote speech at the time she said, “It is not surprising that I, as Leader of the Conservative Party, should wish to give my wholehearted support to this campaign, for the Conservative Party has been pursuing the European vision almost as long as we have existed as a Party.”

Mrs Thatcher also pushed for, and made possible, the Single Market of Europe.

In September 1988 in Bruges, Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher gave a major speech about the future of Europe. She said, “Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.”

Mrs Thatcher added, “Let Europe be a family of nations, understanding each other better, appreciating each other more, doing more together but relishing our national identity no less than our common European endeavour.”

Crucially she said in support of the Single Market, “By getting rid of barriers, by making it possible for companies to operate on a European scale, we can best compete with the United States, Japan and other new economic powers emerging in Asia and elsewhere.”

 JOHN MAJOR: It was former Conservative Prime Minister, John Major, who negotiated and won Parliament’s backing to sign the Maastricht Treaty, that among other benefits gave us EU Citizenship rights allowing us to reside, work, study or retire across a huge expanse of our continent.

He called for Britain to be at ‘the heart of Europe’.

At the Tory Party Conference of 1992, just six months after John Major won a surprise victory in the General Election, he said to the party faithful, “I speak as one who believes Britain’s future lies with Europe.”

And Mr Major warned about Britain walking away from Europe:

“We would be breaking Britain’s future influence in Europe. We would be ending for ever our hopes of building the kind of Europe that we want. And we would be doing that, just when across Europe the argument is coming our way. We would be leaving European policy to the French and the Germans.

“That is not a policy for Great Britain. It would be an historic mistake. And not one your Government is going to make.”

And Mr Major crucially added, “Let us not forget why we joined the Community. It has given us jobs. New markets. New horizons.

“Nearly 60 per cent of our trade is now with our partners. It is the single most important factor in attracting a tide of Japanese and American investment to our shores, providing jobs for our people..

“But the most far-reaching, the most profound reason for working together in Europe I leave till last. It is peace. The peace and stability of a continent, ravaged by total war twice in this century.“

 DAVID CAMERON: Previous Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, also strongly supported Britain’s continued membership of the EU, and his government’s official advice to the electorate during the Referendum was to vote for Remain.

Of course, Theresa May also shared these sentiments before the Referendum, when she campaigned for Remain and declared, “I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”

Yes, Mr Banks, let’s make Conservatives Conservative again.

The truth is that today’s Tory MPs who support Britain’s continued membership of the EU – the ones you want deselected – are in fact the true traditional Tories.

We need them, more than ever, to represent the majority of Britons who now don’t support Brexit.

• Words and graphic Jon Danzig

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