A dozen Tory MPs plotting to oust PM 'blackmailed by whips', says anti-sleaze chief

22 January 2022, 17:05 | Updated: 22 January 2022, 17:32

Chris Bryant said around a dozen MPs have claimed to have been blackmailed by party whips.
Chris Bryant said around a dozen MPs have claimed to have been blackmailed by party whips. Picture: UK Parliament/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A dozen Tory MPs plotting to oust Boris Johnson have alleged they were 'blackmailed by whips', anti-sleaze chief Chris Bryant has said.

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Mr Bryant, who is chairman of the Commons Standards Committee, said he had spoken to "about a dozen" Tories 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".

The Labour MP said there were also allegations that Mr Johnson had been directly involved in the fight for his premiership, ahead of civil servant Sue Gray's keenly-awaited report into lockdown parties in Downing Street.

It came after senior Tory MP William Wragg first alleged that MPs trying to oust the PM had faced "blackmail" threats.

However, the Prime Minister has denied the claims, saying he has not seen any evidence of blackmail.

A No10 spokesperson 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."

Read more: Met police to meet senior Tory who alleged MPs trying to oust PM faced ‘blackmail’ threats

Read more: Rebel Tories threaten to release recording in blackmail row as partygate email uncovered

Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Bryant added: "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."

It comes after it was confirmed that the Met police will meet Mr Wragg in the coming week.

The Tory MP said he would be meeting a Scotland Yard detective in the Commons early next week, raising the prospect police could open an investigation.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told LBC the force could not comment on any upcoming meetings, but, of the blackmail claims, said: "As with any such allegations, should a criminal offence be reported to the Met, it would be considered."

However, 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 No10 spokesman said it would only open an inquiry if it was presented with evidence to back up Mr Wragg's assertions.