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‘Ukip’s biggest donor and David Cameron’s former strategist in plot to oust 100 Remain MPs’
A millionaire former donor to the UK Independence Party and David Cameron’s ex-policy guru are joining forces to try to unseat 100 Remain-supporting MPs at the next general election, The Telegraph can disclose.
Arron Banks, the insurance millionaire, will unveil plans in May to help fund independent candidates to stand against MPs who he feels have failed their local constituents.
Mr Banks said he had held talks about his campaign with Steve Hilton, who was Mr Cameron’s policy adviser when he was in Downing Street.
Mr Hilton has launched his Crowdpac funding campaign in the UK last summer to “help more independent – and independent-minded – people stand for office, whether at the local or national level”.
Mr Banks, who gave £1million to Ukip before the last general election, told this week’s Chopper’s Brexit Podcast he had dubbed it a “drain the swamp” strategy.
Under the plans, his new Patriotic Alliance movement to help to organise and fund “independent candidates to stand against particularly bad MPs”.
He would target what “bad career politicians”, he said, adding: “We have been working with Steve Hilton on how you fund local candidates, how you put them forward, how you do things.”
Local Facebook pages would be set up in constituencies to invite support for a campaign to unseat the local MP.
Andy Wigmore, Mr Banks’ key adviser, said the alliance had identified 103 MPs which “we consider are not fit for purpose”.
The alliance would look at how many times they voted, how many times they interact with the public and “their reaction to Brexit”. He said: “There is a multiple of facets that classify them as rubbish.
“There is a graph which we will produce based on research with our user base to find which ones are good MPs and which are bad MPs.”
Mr Wigmore said the movement could result in the biggest clear-out of MPs since scores left Parliament after the Telegraph’s exposure of the MPs’ expenses scandal.
He said the campaign would also focus on Remain-supporting MPs in areas that voted for Leave. “We are going to attack them,” he said.
Mr Wigmore said he and Mr Banks had met with Mr Hilton several times to discuss the plans at the Cpac political conference in Washington DC a month ago.
Mr Hilton was also spotted at a party thrown by Mr Banks for Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, on the night before President Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington in January.
Mr Wigmore said: “If someone wants to stand as a candidate we will help them and use Crowdpac to help them generate funds to do so.”
Mr Hilton could not be reached for comment.
However in an article last year, Mr Hilton said: “If we’re ever going to see the kind of modern, responsive and open-minded politics that people are crying out for, we have to break the grip of the party machines and get more independent, and independent-minded, candidates elected to office, at every level of government.”
Also in Chopper’s Brexit podcast, Jonathan Faull, one of the EU’s most experienced British officials, suggested he would be willing to advise Whitehall on the Brexit talks.
Asked if would offer his services to his country, Mr Faull, who retired at the end of December after 38 years at the European Commission, said: “My country can always call on me – I remain a British citizen thoroughly loyal as well as a British citizen who thinks that the European Union is also of great importance.”
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