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A senior member of Britain’s parliament has urged fellow Conservatives facing “intimidation” over their support for a no confidence motion in Prime Minister Boris Johnson to report it to the police.
William Wragg, chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said he has received reports of conduct amounting to “blackmail.” He said they include “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 they who 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 committee hearing.” Wragg is one of a handful of Conservative Party MPs 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, the mechanism by which a sitting Conservative prime minister can be removed from office by his own party members.
Speaking as the committee prepared to take evidence from the Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay, he said the conduct of the Government whip’s office threatening to withdraw public funding from MPs’ constituencies may have breached the Ministerial Code.
The deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, Angela Rayner, said there must be a full investigation of Wragg’s claims: “These are grave and shocking accusations of bullying, blackmail, and misuse of public money and must be investigated thoroughly,” she said.
“The idea that areas of our country will be starved of funding because their MPs don’t fall into line to prop up this failing Prime Minister is disgusting.” In response to Wragg’s statement, a No 10 spokesman 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.” House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it would be a “contempt” to obstruct MPs in doing their duties by trying to “intimidate” them.
He noted “serious allegations” had been made by Wragg, before offering general guidance to MPs as he had not yet had a chance to study the specific details.
“The investigation of allegedly criminal conduct is a matter for the police,” he said.
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