MPs subject to ‘blackmail' as Johnson fights to save skin, claims senior Tory
The Independent|January 21, 2022
Rebel Tory MPs have spoken of facing intimidation and threats for turning against Boris Johnson, following a bombshell claim that those close to the prime minister have resorted to blackmail in an effort to keep him in offie.
ANDREW WOODCOCK

Senior Conservative William Wragg revealed that he had received reports of Johnson loyalists threatening to place smear stories in the press about Tories considering declarations of no confidence in the prime minister. And he said that MPs had told him of warnings that investment in their constituencies would be at risk if they failed to back Mr Johnson in the battle to save his political life.

The prime minister insisted he had seen “no evidence” to back the claims, which come amid a vicious Tory civil war over allegations of lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street. But Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told The Independent that he believed a critical story about him which appeared days after he submitted a confidence letter was intended to deter colleagues from following his example.

“I was one of the first MPs out of the blocks calling for Boris Johnson to go, and within days there was a smear story out there,” said the North West Leicestershire MP. “That wasn’t just to intimidate me, it was used to intimidate other people and say to them ‘This is what will happen to you if you sign a letter’.”

Another MP said they and others had been “hounded” with negative briefings despite making it clear that they would wait for the Partygate report by Sue Gray before coming to a judgement – something the PM has appealed for people to do.

“There are a number of MPs who have told me there have been questions raised about funding,” said the red wall MP. “The whips appear to be picking on the ones they think are weaker, but it is rebounding on them because people who were previously unsure are now moving towards putting letters in.”

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