A BITTER war of words has broken out among Isle of Wight Tories over a rumoured plot to oust MP Andrew Turner.
The row kicked off on Monday night when Conservative Isle of Wight councillor Chris Whitehouse took to Twitter to declare a "nasty cabal" was trying to unseat Mr Turner.
Former leader David Pugh has denied any knowledge of such a plot. He said: "I simply cannot understand where this has all come from — it reads like something out of Damian McBride’s memoirs.
"As a Conservative, I have always publicly supported and will always publicly support Conservative representatives or candidates."
As council leader, Mr Pugh often clashed with Mr Turner. He and Mr Turner’s partner and parliamentary assistant, Carole Dennett, became embroiled in a late-night row after a charity ball, a video of which was posted on YouTube.
In an e-mail to Cllr Whitehouse, leaked to the County Press, Mr Pugh said the councillor’s allegations on Twitter were serious and demanded he either substantiated his claims or withdrew them.
Mr Turner would not be drawn into the row, however he confirmed his intention to stand in the 2015 general election.
He said: "I have made it clear I intend to stand and quite properly I have been asked to write formally to the chairman of the Isle of Wight Conservative Association (IWCA) to confirm that. I shall be writing to him this week. The association can then start the normal process for re-adoption. I will not be making any further comment at all on this internal process or on any of the personalities mentioned in this story."
IWCA chairman Alan Wells said the rumours were completely untrue. "Andrew is the MP and there has been no discussion about removing him. All this nonsense about a cabal is, to my knowledge, completely untrue," he said.
IWCA officers, who met yesterday (Thursday), agreed Cllr Whitehouse had brought the party into disrepute and have demanded an explanation, warning he could lose his membership. Mr Wells said: "It’s very damaging to the party’s reputation to air your dirty washing in public like that without any justification. I hope he will be sensible and realise he has overstepped the mark."
Cllr Whitehouse brushed off any suggestion of wrongdoing. "How can standing up for a hard-working Conservative MP be anything other than the right thing to do? I frequently have robust public discussions with David Pugh and other Conservatives and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way," he said.