Tory MP who used Nigel Farage on campaign leaflet falls out spectacularly with Reform

A Brexiteer Tory MP who used a picture of Nigel Farage on her campaign leaflet has fallen out spectacularly with his party Reform UK.

Andrea Jenkyns claimed she was wooed by a pro-Brexit businessman acting on behalf of Reform who she says offered her jobs to defect.

The MP has described a number of meetings with Arron Banks - including going to Nigel Farage’s birthday party as his plus 1 - as Reform under Richard Tice’s leadership tried to pressure her to switch parties ahead of the election.

The meetings prompted fevered speculation before the election that Ms Jenkyns might defect to Reform and led to revelations of her efforts to strike a deal between them and the Tories. Instead, she has ended up in a bitter row.

Cheers! Nigel Farage at his birthday party with Aaron Banks and Andrea Jenkyns (Andrea Jenkyns/Twitter)
Cheers! Nigel Farage at his birthday party with Aaron Banks and Andrea Jenkyns (Andrea Jenkyns/Twitter)

The feud has echoes of claims made by Lee Anderson, denied by Tice and Reform, that he was offered £80,000 a year to defect before he was suspended by the Tories. Another Tory MP has made the same allegation but does not want to be named.

Ms Jenkyns decided to go public after an extraordinary attack over the weekend by Mr Tice who accused her of bribing her Reform rival in Leeds South West and Morley James Kendall.

Mr Tice publicly targeted Ms Jenkyns after The Independent was given details of a conversation between her and Reform candidate Mr Kendall.

In the exchange, Mr Kendall confessed that he had wanted to stand in a different seat against pro-EU Labour MP Hilary Benn. But he said Mr Tice had forced him to stand against Ms Jenkyns to exert pressure on her to try to make her defect.

Richard Tice has made allegations of bribery (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
Richard Tice has made allegations of bribery (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

He told Ms Jenkyns: "They've (Reform) just thrown you under the bus. They're a***holes. It's horrific."

He added: "Andrea, it doesn't make f***ing sense why I'm standing against you. I've made it clear. I did not want to stand against you."

In comments made before the fallout from Reform’s Clacton operation which involved a man calling Rishi Sunak a “p***”, he also raised the alarm on his party’s volunteers, saying: "I wouldn't let some of them knock on doors!"

Mr Tice told The Independent: “Turns out it is effective bribery: she offered him money with a plum job and being a key part of her team. Bet she did not tell you that? She bribed him to say these things because she is terrified of losing. She now regrets not defecting to us! She had her chance and blew it!”

The recorded conversation between Ms Jenkyns and Mr Kendall included the pair discussing the possibility of creating a video and working together after the election, but there was no evidence of a job offer. Crucially, it was too late for Mr Kendall to withdraw as a Reform candidate. He is still intending to stand.

The row came after another Reform candidate for Erewash, Liam Booth-Isherwood, gave his support to the Tories because of concerns over racism in Reform.

Mr Tice doubled down on the allegations on Twitter where he included it in a post containing a number of allegations about different Tory candidates.

In a statement, Ms Jenkyns, who insists she never came close to defecting, described Mr Tice’s “wild accusations” as “libellous” and an attempt to “deflect from his own embarrassing behaviour.”

She said: “Mr Tice has offered absolutely no evidence to support this utterly ridiculous claim.

"The reality is, under Mr Tice's leadership of Reform, prominent supporter Arron Banks tried to ply me with a job in his company if I defected to Reform. Naturally, I refused the outrageous offer. I have been subjected to numerous approaches from Reform since, including urging me to defect just days before the nomination papers were finalised.

“By its candidate’s own admission, Reform has clearly been running an underhand campaign to push MPs into defecting by any means they consider necessary."

She also provided details of meetings she had with Mr Banks where she claims she was offered jobs on an MP’s salary in various of his companies including one in Africa and a charity.

Mr Tice responded: “Arron Banks has nothing to do with Reform and that is bull**** from her.”

Mr Banks has denied Ms Jenkyn’s claims that her offered her a job to defect.

He said: “We have spoken to many scared Conservative MPs who were thinking of defecting, What she says is nonsense. Nigel Farage’s late entrance caught them all out .

“I do note however she put Nigel Farage and myself on her election leaflet rather than her own prime minister, says it all doesn’t it!

“These desperate Conservative MPs remind me of fish that have been trawled up from the ocean and gasping their last few political breaths. They can relax by Thursday it will all be over.”

The Independent has approached Mr Kendall for a comment.