William Wragg alleges ‘blackmail’ against Tory MPs plotting against Boris Johnson
A senior Conservative MP has accused ministers of breaching the ministerial code by making threats to rebel colleagues who are considering trying to topple Boris Johnson.
William Wragg urged the MPs to go the police, saying: “The reports of which I’m aware would seem to constitute blackmail.”
The sensational accusation comes as an inquiry into parties held at No 10 during lockdown is said to have found an email central to establishing if the PM “lied to parliament” over his knowledge of one specific event – held on 20 May 2020, in the Downing Street garden – after his former adviser Dominic Cummings claimed Mr Johnson knew “full well” it was a social event.
Sue Gray, who is conducting the investigation, is poised to quiz the senior official who sent the email – warning the PM’s aide Martin Reynolds to scrap the “bring your own booze” event – according to a report by ITV News.
Three to seven no confidence letters ‘withdrawn’
Between three and seven letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson were withdrawn yesterday, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Senior sources in the government whip’s office told the publication that they know of at least three cases where MPs had changed their minds yesterday after a raucous PMQs session.
One Tory MP said: “Wakeford has saved Boris.”
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 14:51
Douglas Ross: Wragg claims are serious and must be investigated
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader who is among those to demand Johnson’s resignation, said Wragg’s allegations are “serious” and should be investigated.
He told ITV Border he has not personally been told of any intimidation, but added: “I think anyone in the Conservative Party will be disappointed to hear these allegations and I hope that they’re properly investigated.”
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 14:50
Reports saying rebels withdrew no confidence letters ‘pure invention from No 10’
Reports that rebel MPs withdrew letters calling for a no confidence vote in the PM yesterday are “pure invention from No 10,” a source has told The Guardian.
“These briefings of withdrawals are pure invention from No 10,” one Johnson critic told the publication.
“Wakeford may have stayed some people’s hands yesterday but this isn’t going into reverse.”
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 14:39
Full report: Tory whips threatened to cancel new school if I rebelled, says defector MP
Our policy correspondent, Jon Stone, has more below on claims by Wakeford that he was threatened by whips:
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 14:20
Cummings: Email proves No 10 lying over garden party
An email reportedly found by Sue Gray in which an aide warns against the now infamous Downing Street garden party proves No 10 is lying over the affair, Dominic Cummings has claimed.
“Episode 197 of no10 saying ‘cummings lying’ then evidence shows no10 is lying…,” the PM’s former chief aide wrote on Twitter.
“NB Broadcasters shd now assume no10 is lying unless strong reason to think contrary, given lying is default mode as regime implodes,” he added.
Earlier this week Cummings said that email evidence would emerge showing that the PM was warned about the event.
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 14:05
Tory MP: Whips threatened to axe school funding if i didn’t vote in a certain way
A Tory MP has said government whips threatened to axe funding for a school in his constituency if he didn’t vote a certain way.
Christian Wakeford, the MP for Bury South who defected to Labour yesterday, told the BBC the threat made him “question” his position in the Conservative Party.
More comments from Wakeford here:
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 13:50
‘Looks like checkmate’ for Boris Johnson, says senior Tory MP
Senior Conservative MP Steve Baker has said it looked like “checkmate” for Boris Johnson, suggesting that the prime minister’s time at No 10 was coming to an end over the partygate scandal.
Our politics reporter Adam Forrest has more below:
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 13:37
Johnson: No evidence of blackmail by Tory whips
Boris Johnson has said there is “no evidence” of government whips blackmailing rebel MPs plotting to trigger a no confidence vote in his leadership.
“I have seen no evidence, heard no evidence to support any of those allegations,” he told Sky News.
“What I’m focused on is what we’re doing to deal with the number one priority of the British people which is coming through Covid.”
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 13:20
Whips’ tactics ‘not new’ but Wragg ‘shone a light on them’
LBC politics correspondent Ben Kentish suggests whips’ strongarm tactics are nothing new but Wragg has shone a light on them.
“I was told by Tory MPs, at the height of the Rashford row, that members of the govt were threatening to withhold money from schools in their (deprived) constituencies if they voted to extend free school meals,” he wrote on Twitter.
“These practices aren’t new but Will Wragg has shone a light on them.”
Matt Mathers20 January 2022 13:15
Tory MPs appear to have differing accounts of ‘blackmail’ claims
As sources told ITV News’ Anushka Asthana:
Sam Hancock20 January 2022 12:57