Boris Johnson: Allegations of blackmail to save PM should be referred to police, says head of standards committee

Allegations of government attempts to pressurise Conservative MPs into supporting Boris Johnson should be referred to the police, head of the Commons Standards Committee Chris Bryant has said.

It comes after reports of MPs being threatened with cuts to funding in their constituencies unless they supported the Prime Minister in the ongoing scandal over parties held at Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdown.

William Wragg, the MP who first raised concerns about attempted “blackmail” by No 10, has said he will meet police to discuss his claims.

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Mr Bryant, a Labour MP, said he had spoken to “about a dozen” Conservatives in recent days who had either been threatened by Government whips with having funding cut from their constituencies or promised funding if they voted “the right way”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits to the Rutherford Diagnostic Centre on January 20, 2022 in Taunton, Somerset, England. Photo by Andrew Matthews-WPA Pool/Getty Images

“I have even heard MPs alleging that the Prime Minister himself has been doing this,” Mr Bryant told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Saturday.

“What I have said to all of those people is that I think that is misconduct in public office. The people who should be dealing with such allegations are the police.

“We are not the United States. We don’t run a ‘pork barrel’ system. It is illegal.

“We are meant to operate as MPs without fear or favour. The allocation of taxpayer funding to constituencies should be according to need, not according to the need to keep the Prime Minister in his job.”

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Christian Wakeford, the Bury South MP who defected to Labour this week, later said Conservative whips had warned him about a risk to funding for a new school in his constituency if he rebelled in a vote over free school meals.

Ministers have sought to dismiss the allegations, insisting the whips had no role in the allocation of public funding.

Downing Street said it would not be mounting its own inquiry into the claims, despite calls to do so by both Conservative and opposition MPs.

A No 10 spokesman said it would only open an inquiry if it was presented with evidence to back up Mr Wragg’s assertions.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “As with any such allegations, should a criminal offence be reported to the Met, it would be considered.”

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