Christian Wakeford, the newest Labour MP, says he was threatened with the loss of funding for his constituency if he rebelled against the Tory whip.
The Bury South MP – who defected from the Conservatives yesterday – told the BBC that he was warned not to vote the wrong way.
“I was threatened that I would not get a school for Radcliffe if I didn’t vote one particular way. This is a town that’s not had a high school for the best part of 10 years,” he said.
“How would you feel holding back the rejuvenation of a town for a vote? It didn’t sit comfortably, and that was really [me] starting to question my place where I was, and ultimately to where I am now.”
It comes as Boris Johnson is battling claims that Tory critics are facing “intimidation” which could amount to blackmail as part of an effort to keep him in office.
The prime minister insisted he had seen no evidence to support the incendiary claim made by William Wragg, the Tory chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Wragg said he had received reports of conduct including “members of staff at 10 Downing Street, 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 prime minister”.
“The intimidation of a Member of Parliament is a serious matter. Reports of which I am aware would seem to constitute blackmail,” he said at the start of a Commons committee hearing.
“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 Metropolitan Police.”
But Johnson, on a visit to Taunton, 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.
‘Not above the law’
The MP is one of a handful of Tory backbenchers to have said publicly they have submitted a letter to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, calling for a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s leadership.
He said the conduct of the Government Whips’ Office threatening to withdraw public funding from MPs’ constituencies may have breached the ministerial code.
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”.
“While the whipping system is long-established, it is of course a contempt to obstruct members in the discharge of their duty or to attempt to intimidate a member in their parliamentary conduct by threats,” he said.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant, a former whip, said Wragg’s comments were “nonsense”.
“If I reported every time I had been threatened by a whip or if a whip reported every time I had threatened them, the police wouldn’t have any time to conduct any other police work,” he said.
Related: ‘Several’ Tory MPs could follow Wakeford and defect to Labour