Watford MP Richard Harrington says there is “no them and us” with his Conservative association – but said he would welcome “Brexit-obsessed” members launching a vote of no confidence in him.

The Watford MP was bullish about a possible no-confidence vote on Sky News this morning after a report by political blogger Guido Fawkes suggesting he had turned his back on the Watford Conservative Association (WCA).

The article claimed he had convinced all three employees of his local association to resign and join his own professional campaign group, headed by agent Chris Baxter, who himself resigned in May.

It adds local Tories say they have no access to their office, records, website, email and social media accounts.

And the piece claims the association has “ground to a halt” and one member claimed “he has stolen the association” with the departure of senior staff.

The MP wrote to Conservative members in May inviting them to join this team – set to “rapidly scale up” door knocking, leafleting and calling constituents – from his revamped office.

Watford Observer:

This was the letter sent out by Mr Harrington's new campaign group on May 24

The article suggests the move is a deliberate one by the MP to pre-empt any attempt to deselect him by association members angry at his anti-no deal stance on Brexit.

South West Hertfordshire MP David Gauke last week won a no-confidence vote held by his association by 123 votes to 61, suggesting the vote had been brought about by Leave.EU campaigners who joined the party specifically to get rid of him.

The Guido Fawkes article says agent Chris Baxter has “gone rogue” and is no longer answering calls from activists.

Mr Harrington insists that Mr Baxter still has communication with the association.

The MP is paying Mr Baxter’s salary and his letter to members states that they have been able to put an “impressive team together”.

Mr Harrington is adamant he is not working against the WCA but said that some WCA members’ obsession with Brexit has “not been helpful”.

Mr Harrington has publicly said he would oppose a no-deal Brexit and even resigned as business minister in order to vote against it.

Speaking to the Watford Observer earlier today, Watford's MP said: “I have always had a Richard Harrington campaign independent of the Watford Conservative Association.

“My sole intention is to get a Conservative candidate elected in Watford. I’m very pleased to help get Watford councillors and an MP elected in the borough and in Three Rivers but I’m not prepared to spend time and resources obsessing over Brexit, which is what a small minority in the association are.

“In recent months, within the association, there have been a few activists who have not been helpful at all. They seem obsessed with Brexit. The vast majority of Conservative members in Watford are decent middle-of-the-road people who help me get elected.”

How did the association respond? Click here

He added: “It’s absolute rubbish to say I have stolen the association. I do fundraising for my own campaigns. I don’t want a ‘them and us’ situation. As far as I’m concerned, I’m raising funds. It’s the same people.”

Mr Harrington’s letter in May does state his new campaign group is “separate” from the association but says it is his intention to “work as closely as possible” with them.

Its chairman Greg Barrow, who was only appointed in October, is resigning from the role this month – Mr Harrington says Mr Barrow is resigning because he has a limited amount of time, but says he continues to support the association.

The Guido Fawkes’ article also alleges that taking the association’s existing group data “raises serious legal questions”.

But Mr Harrington says his group has full access to data via Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

The Observer has attempted to contact some members of the Watford Conservative Association.