Tory donors 'giving money to MPs instead of Theresa May'
Conservative donors are giving money directly to Tory MPs instead of the party's central office because of their anger about Theresa May's handling of Brexit, it has been claimed.
Alexander Temerko, who has donated more than £1 million to the Conservatives, told The Times that the Prime Minister had "alienated" voters on both sides of the Brexit divide.
And he revealed that he had now resorted to giving thousands of pounds in donations straight "to associations and MPs" instead of Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ).
"Who is suffering? CCHQ. A lot of donors now prefer to support individual MPs not CCHQ," he warned.
"Remainers are disappointed about a lot of uncertainty, Brexiteers are disappointed because Brexit has not happened. She should be much more careful with donors. She has alienated them."
The comments came as Conservative members moved a step closer to forcing a vote on ousting May as Tory leader.
Under Conservative rules, the Prime Minister - who last December saw off a no-confidence vote spearheaded by MPs - cannot be challenged until the end of the year.
But the Telegraph reports that a petition to force the party's National Conservative Convention to call on "extraordinary general meeting" on May's leadership has now gained enough signatures to make it happen.
According to the paper, 70 Conservative association chairmen have now signed a petition saying they "no longer feel that Mrs May is the right person to continue as Prime Minister to lead us forward in the negotiations".
They add: "We therefore with great reluctance ask that she considers her position and resigns, to allow the Conservative Party to choose another leader, and the country to move forward and negotiate our exit from the EU."
The party's constitution says if a petition is signed "by not less than 65 Constituency Association Chairmen" then the party must call an "Extraordinary General Meeting of the National Convention", which represents the party's voluntary wing.