Mon, 15 July 2024

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Senior Tory Tells MPs To Go To The Police Over "Blackmail" Attempts To Protect Boris Johnson

William Wragg made the accusations in Parliament on Thursday

2 min read

Senior Conservative MP William Wragg has accused the government of "intimidation" in their efforts to stop MPs from criticising Boris Johnson.

The Hazel Grove MP made several serious allegations against the government at an influential parliamentary committee session, including attempts to encourage the publication of "embarassing" stories in the press to "intimidate" MPs who might criticise the Prime Minister.

Wragg said such attempts could "constitute blackmail" and urged any MPs who felt they had been targeted to contact the police.

In a statement to the Public Affairs Committee which he chairs, Wragg accused government whips of having breached the ministerial code by threatening those who had spoken out against the Prime Minister of having funding removed from their constituency.

"In recent days, a number of members of parliament have faced pressures and intimidation from members of the government because of their declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence in the party leadership of the Prime Minister.

"It is of course the duty of the government's whips office to secure the government's business in the House of Commons. However, it is not their function to breach the ministerial code in threatening to withdraw investments from members of parliaments constituencies which are funded from the public purse."

The senior Conservative backbencher also accused Downing Street staff, special advisers and government ministers of behaviour which could constitute "blackmail".

"Additionally, reports to me and others of members of staff at Number 10 Downing Street, special advisers, government ministers and others encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarass those they suspect of lacking confidence in the Prime Minister is similarily unacceptable.

"The intimidation of an MP is a serious matter. Moreover the 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."

Wragg had previously called on Boris Johnson to resign over the Downing Street gatherings, saying MPs were "frankly worn out of defending what is invariably indefensible".

His comments come after reports that Christian Wakeford, the Bury South MP who defected to Labour on Wednesday, had made the decision to quit the party following threats from party whips to redraw his seat under proposed boundary changes.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We are not aware of any evidence to support what are clearly serious allegations. If there is any evidence to support these claims we would look at it very carefully.”

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