MP blackmail claims: Tory William Wragg to meet police

A Conservative backbencher who accused Downing Street of trying to “blackmail” MPs seeking to oust Boris Johnson is to meet police to discuss his allegations.

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William Wragg said he will be speaking to a Met Police detective in the House of Commons early next week, after requesting a meeting with the force.

The MP, who wants the prime minister to quit, said he wanted to leave any probe to “experts” rather than No 10.

Downing Street said it had not seen any proof of the behaviour he alleges.

A spokesman said on Friday they were not investigating the allegations but would look “carefully” at any evidence presented to them.

It comes as Tory whips and No 10 try to shore up support for the prime minster ahead of civil servant Sue Gray’s report into a series of Downing Street lockdown parties which is expected next week.

Mr Johnson has been facing down an attempt from some Conservative MPs to oust him since he admitted attending a drinks event at No 10 during the first lockdown, although he says he believed it was a work event.

So far six Tory MPs have publicly declared no confidence in the PM, but more are thought to have submitted letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, who organises Tory leadership contests.

Under party rules, if 54 letters are submitted a no confidence vote is triggered which could result in a leadership election.

Mr Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester and chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, first raised his concerns on Thursday and advised colleagues who feel threatened to go to the police.

He told the committee that Tory whips – the MPs in charge of party discipline – had threatened those suspected of wanting Mr Johnson out with the removal of government investment in their constituencies.

He also said he had received reports of government ministers, advisers and staff at No 10 “encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass” those suspected of lacking confidence in the prime minister.

Mr Wragg claimed the reports “would seem to constitute blackmail” – and as well as contacting police, affected MPs should contact the Commons Speaker.

He told the Daily Telegraph he would outline “several” examples of bullying and intimidation when he speaks to police.

“I stand by what I have said. No amount of gas-lighting will change that,” he said.

“The offer of No 10 to investigate is kind but I shall leave it to the experts.”

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

After Mr Wragg made his allegations on Thursday, Christian Wakeford – who this week defected from the Conservatives to the Labour Party – said he was threatened he would not get a high school in his constituency if he did not vote in a certain way.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng later questioned Mr Wakeford’s claims, saying he had “never heard of anything like this” since becoming an MP but if it had happened it would be “very seriously regarded” by the government.