Tories Should Contact Police Over 'Blackmail' By Allies Of Boris Johnson, Says Senior MP

Commons public administration committee chairman hits out at "intimidation" of MPs who want to oust the prime minister as party leader.
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via PA Media

A senior Tory has urged MPs to report any attempt to “blackmail” them over their support for a no confidence motion against Boris Johnson to the police.

In a dramatic intervention, William Wragg, the chairman of the Commons public administration committee, said he had been told allies of the prime minister had threatened to “embarrass” rebels with “stories in the press”.

“The intimidation of an MP is a serious matter,” he said on Thursday morning. “Reports of which I am aware would seem to constitute blackmail.

“As such it would be my general advice to colleagues to report these matters to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.”

Johnson has insisted he had seen no evidence to support the incendiary claim.

Wragg said: “Members of staff at No.10, special advisers, government ministers and others encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass those who they suspect of lacking confidence in the PM is unacceptable.”

In a statement at the beginning of a committee session, Wragg also accused ministers of breaching the ministerial code by “threatening” to withdraw public funds from the constituencies of the rebels.

Johnson has faced calls from Conservative MPs, including former cabinet minister David Davis, to quit following the fallout from revelations Downing Street held parties during lockdown.

The PM said: “I’ve seen no evidence, heard no evidence, to support any of those allegations.

“What I am focused on is what we’re doing to deal with the number one priority of the British people, which is coming through Covid.”

He said he would “of course” look for evidence to support the allegations made by Wragg.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it could be a contempt of Parliament to obstruct MPs in their work, adding that MPs and their staff are “not above the criminal law”.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said of Wragg’s statement: “These are shocking accusations of bullying, blackmail bad behaviour from people in positions of power. We need this to be investigated thoroughly.”

It comes after Bury South MP Christian Wakeford defected from the Tories to Labour.

Wakeford said he was threatened about the loss of a school in his constituency if he did not toe the line.

Speaking to BBC North West, he said: “I was threatened that I would not get the school for Radcliffe if I did not vote in one particular way. This is a town that’s not had a high school for the best part of 10 years.”


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