Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis has admitted that the party is going through a “difficult process” as two Tory MPs, including one Cabinet minister, are under pressure from local members to not stand for re-election.
Justice Secretary David Gauke and former attorney general Dominic Greive have both been asked to attend meetings of their local Conservative Associations.
Mr Greive is attending a special meeting of his association on Friday night after losing a vote of no confidence held by his local party in Beaconsfield earlier this year.
Mr Gauke faces a similar confidence motion on June 28 by the South West Hertfordshire Conservative Association.
After it was reported one constituent had joined the party to “have an influence over how Mr Gauke behaves,” he replied on Twitter: “He won’t.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Lewis, said: “They’re not actually facing deselection, that’s not what’s happening.
“Within our party’s rules [these votes] don’t actually have any direct meaning, it’s a difficult process for the party to be going through and I’d rather not be seeing that.
“As the Prime Minister said, and I myself said some week as go, we’re a wide open tent in our party, we are strong because of that.
“My job as chairman is to make sure the rules are properly followed, it’s up to the Member of Parliament if they want to stand again in a general election to ask to be readopted.
“At that point the association will take a view and it is a matter for the local association. We will not do those readoption processes at the moment.”
When asked whether these de-selections were a result of entryism from hard-line Brexit supporters, Mr Lewis disagreed: “What I would argue is that we haven’t seen entryism, what we have seen in some areas is long-standing members of the party who are frustrated that as a government we have not yet delivered on what they voted for in 2016 – and I understand that frustration.”
Leave.EU founder Aaron Banks has been pushing for the deselection of Conservative MPs who have been perceived as frustrating the Brexit process.
The group’s website gives instructions on how to join the Conservative Party, research your local MP’s voting record on Brexit, and then call a Special General Meeting to begin what they call de-selection.
The website features a picture of Dominic Grieve with a large red cross over his face, along with the words: ‘DESELECT THE TORY TRAITORS. THE TIME IS NOW. WHO’S NEXT?’
Last week Mr Banks tweeted “deselection beckons” in response to Sam Gyimah’s announcement that he is standing for the Tory leadership on a second referendum platform.