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20 Jan, 2022 13:12

British government accused of blackmailing PM’s opponents

Tory MP William Wragg claims the government is using intimidation for support for Boris Johnson
British government accused of blackmailing PM’s opponents

In a statement before a committee meeting on Thursday, Tory MP William Wragg said that lawmakers were coming under increasing pressure from the government, with the assumed objective of avoiding a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“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,” said Wragg, who also chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which oversees constitutional issues and standards.

“Moreover, the reports of which I’m aware, would seem to constitute blackmail,” he stated, adding, “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 acknowledged that the government whip’s office – typically tasked with maintaining party discipline – was charged with ensuring No. 10’s business is carried out in the House of Commons, but said it is “not their function to breach the ministerial code.” He continued, noting that it is especially bad to threaten to withdraw public funding for constituencies with rebel MPs.       

Downing Street was quick to respond to the allegations. “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,” a spokesman for the government stated.

Christian Wakeford, the MP who unceremoniously defected from the Tories to Labour on Wednesday, said he was “threatened” that Radcliffe, in his constituency, would not get a high school if he voted in the wrong direction.

“This is a town that’s not had a high school for the best part of 10 years. How would you feel when holding back regeneration of a town for a vote, it didn’t sit comfortably,” he told broadcasters.

He claimed that the threat made him question his place and eventually led to his defection to the opposition.

The developments come as a number of rebel Tories plot ways to oust the embattled Johnson, whose support has crumbled following allegations that the PM visited several parties in the Downing Street garden which may have broken lockdown rules. 

The PM has called on MPs to wait for the results of a probe before making calls for him to resign. Johnson has apologized for the ‘Partygate’ scandal, but insisted he did not realize he was breaking the rules.