- Boris Johnson's team has been accused of intimidating MPs who question his leadership.
- Tory MP William Wragg said he had heard reports of what seemed to constitute blackmail of MPs.
- Backbenchers told Insider Christian Wakeford had defected to Labour after 'bullying' behaviour from the whips.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Boris Johnson's team has been accused of intimidating Conservative MPs believed to be questioning his leadership of the party.
William Wragg, chair of the Public Administration and Consitutional Affairs Committee, made the accusation in a statement on Thursday morning, after a growing plot to oust the Prime Minister appeared to falter.
Wragg, who is also vice-chair of the 1922 committee, said a number of MPs had faced "pressures and intimidation" from members of the government "because of a declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence in the party leadership of the Prime Minister."
He said that while government whips have a duty to secure government business in the House of Commons, it is "not their function to breach the ministerial code and threaten to withdraw investments from Members of Parliament's constituencies that are drawn from the public purse."
"Additionally, reports to me and others of members of staff at 10 Downing Street, special advisors, government ministers, and others, encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass those who they suspect of lacking confidence in the Prime Minister is similarly unacceptable."
Wragg, who has called for Boris Johnson to resign in the wake of the partygate scandal, added: "Intimidation of a Member of Parliament is a serious matter. Moreover, the reports of which I am aware would seem to constitute blackmail. As such, it would be my general advice to colleagues to report these matters to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. I also welcome them to contact me at any time."
His intervention comes a day after sources told Insider that Christian Wakeford's defection from the Conservative party to Labour had been triggered by "bullying", which one MP described as "vicious", including threats of deselection and cutting funding.
This morning, one MP said the behaviour extended further to include other members of the 2019 intake, including one-time poster girl Dehenna Davison, who has repeatedly stressed she is not involved in any plot to oust Johnson.
Wakeford could not be reached this morning.