Angela Rayner has described the accusations by a senior Tory backbencher against government whips as “grave and shocking” claims of “bullying, blackmail, and misuse of public money” that must be “investigated thoroughly”.
Reacting to the statement by William Wragg today, Labour’s deputy leader 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.
“On the day Labour is setting out plans to deal with the cost of living crisis affecting the whole country, the Tory party continues to descend further into chaos of its own making. The country deserves better than this out of touch, out of control, out of ideas government.”
Update, 1.20pm: Christian Wakeford, the MP who defected from the Tories to Labour on Wednesday, has backed up the claims, saying he was told that plans for a new high school in his constituency could be scrapped unless he voted a certain way.
Wragg, the Tory chair of the public accounts committee and an outspoken critic of Boris Johnson, declared today that No 10 had threatened rebellious Conservative MPs over their opposition to the Prime Minister with “blackmail”.
Publicly describing specific threats to withdraw funding to the constituencies represented by a number of rebel backbenchers, Wragg today urged colleagues to contact the Metropolitan Police if they had been threatened or intimidated.
In response to Wragg’s allegations of intimidation and bullying, No 10 Downing Street has commented that it is “not aware of any evidence to support what are clearly serious allegations” but will look at any evidence “very carefully”.
Labour’s Lisa Nandy said: “These serious allegations must be investigated. What has been claimed would be a betrayal of the promise to level up our country. Holding our communities hostage and putting at risk the futures of hardworking people all to save the job of just one man.
“Playing politics in Whitehall while the rest of us are expected to wait for the crumbs off the table falls below the most basic expectations of leadership. We were promised more opportunities, better jobs and more investment. If they won’t deliver that, they must go.”
Wragg has submitted a letter of no confidence in Johnson and said: “The Prime Minister’s position is untenable and I don’t believe it should be left to the findings of a civil servant to determine the future of the Prime Minister, and indeed, who governs this country.”