Businessman Alexander Temerko, a major political donor, has accused several senior members of the Conservative Party of behaving like “political jihadis”, urging them to support Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers plan to avert a hard Brexit.
"You know what Winston Churchill said about political fanatics? He said they are people who can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject,” Mr. Temerko said in an exclusive interview with The Independent newspaper on Sunday.
The energy mogul also offered a word of advice to ex-Foreign Minister Boris Johnson amid ongoing speculation of him launching a leadership bid against PM May, calling on him to adopt a less extreme stance on Brexit.
"I would say to him Boris, come back to the center ground – that is your chance. If you want to lead the party, come back to the party and leave the Brexit jihadis.”
Moreover, Mr. Temerko, who has donated around £1 million to the party in recent years, stressed that a no-deal Brexit would be the “worst scenario”, expressing support for May’s Chequers proposals, later clarifying that her suggestion for the Irish border needs to be amended to get Brussels’ backing.
"For me one of the top donors in the party, there is one red line. If as we approach the first day after Brexit, if we are leaving without a deal, I will very actively be pushing for a new election," he said, reaffirming his opposition to a hard Brexit.
However, a leadership challenge could set in motion a snap election, potentially forcing the Tories out of power, with many polls suggesting the Labour Party could snatch victory, especially if Jeremy Corbyn vows to give the electorate a second vote on Brexit.