The MP who claimed Tory whips were blackmailing other MPs to withhold letters of “no confidence” in Boris Johnson is taking his allegation to the police.
William Wragg reckons he has evidence that will justify a police investigation, despite claims from 10 Downing Street that it has seen no such information, and from Johnson loyalists that the scandal is nonsense.
Mr Wragg said he will see a police officer on Monday because he wanted to leave any investigation to “experts” rather than Number 10. His faith may be misplaced – consider the way the Metropolitan Police has ignored allegations that parties happened in Downing Street when officers were standing guard at the door.
Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, said he had spoken to about a dozen Tory MPs who claimed whips threatened to withdraw funding for their constituencies, including for campaigning and infrastructure such as bypasses and schools.
He said some had alleged that Johnson himself has been doing this, describing such behaviour as “misconduct in public office”. He agreed with Mr Wragg that is was a matter for the police.
He also said the allegations seemed to be part of an erosion of standards that had been taking place over a period of years.
Nusrat Ghani would probably agree with him, although This Writer isn’t sure anybody has asked her.
She lost her job as a transport minister in a mini-reshuffle in February 2020 and has now said she was told it was because her religion – she’s a Muslim – was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.
This seems likely in a Party that has been riddled with accusations of Islamophobia for years – including allegations against Johnson.
Apparently chief whip Mark Spencer has claimed this accusation relates to him but is false.
“I had to listen to a monologue on how hard it was to define when people are being racist and that the party doesn’t have a problem and I needed to do more to defend it.
“It was very clear to me that the whips and No 10 were holding me to a higher threshold of loyalty than others because of my background and faith.”
said Ms Ghani.
I think she should join Mr Wragg’s interview with the police officer early next week.
And Mark Drakeford, Wales’s First Minister, whose Covid-19 policies have safeguarded the population here so much better than Johnson’s have in England, has said Johnson’s plan to ease ‘Plan B’ health protections (you may call them restrictions) is probably a distraction tactic.
“Everything that goes on in Whitehall and Westminster at the moment for the UK government is seen exclusively through the lens of, how does this make a difference to the efforts that are being made to shore-up the position of the prime minister,” he said.
“This is a government that at the moment is simply not capable of doing the ordinary business of government in a competent and sensible way because it is overwhelmed by the headlines that surround dreadful events that went on in Downing Street.”
He also said:
“The prime minister is someone who’s been sacked from two previous jobs for not telling the truth.
“I think The Times wrote an editorial on the eve of the December 2019 election pointing to the many flaws in the prime minister’s record and in many ways, I think what you see is his history catching up with him.”
There’s a lot of accuracy in that, I reckon.
Even if he slithers out of the Partygate accusations, it seems Johnson may be sunk by his efforts to avoid being backstabbed by his own MPs.
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