Tory MPs deplore government blackmail

NAfter a dramatic day full of coup rumors, Boris Johnson faced a new allegation on Thursday. One of the inner-party rebels, William Wragg, complained in Parliament that like-minded people had been “intimidated” and “blackmailed”. To dissuade them from expressing their distrust in the prime minister, members of the government have threatened to withdraw public investment from their constituencies. This should be investigated by the police, recommended Wragg. Downing Street said it had no evidence of the allegation.

The accusation of extortion was received differently. Some Conservative MPs downplayed him, arguing that the Whips have traditionally used hardball to bring MPs into line with factions. If you reported every case to the police, they would soon no longer care about crimes, MP Michael Fabricant said. Other MPs, particularly those on the opposition benches, took the allegations seriously and called for an investigation. A Liberal Democrat spoke of “mafia methods”.

“For God’s sake, go.”

The allegations surfaced after Johnson appeared to have temporarily found his footing. In circles of his group it was said that several motions of no confidence had been withdrawn. At the same time, prominent Tories opposed a no-confidence vote, including former Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, who had recently expressed interest in the post. Should there still be a vote, Johnson will “fight,” said a government spokesman.

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The day before, the Prime Minister had been asked to resign several times in the House of Commons. A speech by former Brexit Minister David Davis caused a stir, at the end of which he suggested the end of Johnson with a historical quote: “In God’s name: go.” Shortly before that, Tory MP Christian Wakeford had switched to the Labor Party. He followed the debate from the opposition bench.

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