Tory MP William Wragg accuses Johnson’s staff, government ministers and others of “encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass those who they suspect of lacking confidence in the prime minister”.

The office of Boris Johnson says it is not aware of any evidence to support the allegations.
The office of Boris Johnson says it is not aware of any evidence to support the allegations. (Reuters)

A lawmaker from Britain’s governing Conservatives has accused the government of blackmailing and intimidating opponents of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as the party's internal rifts deepen.

William Wragg, a Tory member of Parliament, accused on Thursday Johnson’s staff, government ministers and others of “encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass those who they suspect of lacking confidence in the prime minister”.

He also alleged that rebellious lawmakers had been threatened with a loss of public funding for their constituencies.

 "Moreover, the reports of which I'm aware, would seem to constitute blackmail," Wragg said.

"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."

Johnson’s 10 Downing St. office said it was “not aware of any evidence to support what are clearly serious allegations“. 

"If there is any evidence to support these claims we would look at it very carefully,” a spokesperson said.

READ MORE: Conservative MP switches sides as Johnson faces 'partygate' music

Political storm

Johnson, 57, who won a large majority in 2019, is facing growing calls to step down over a series of scandals, including admitting he had attended a party at his Downing Street office at a time when Britain was under a strict Covid-19 lockdown.

Wragg, chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee which oversees constitutional issues and standards, is one of a handful of Tory lawmakers openly calling for Johnson to face a no-confidence vote over the “partygate” scandal.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating claims that government staff held late-night soirees, boozy parties and “wine time Fridays” while Britain was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

Johnson has vowed to fight on, saying he would lead the Conservative Party into the next election.

He has apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” gathering in the garden of his Downing Street offices in May 2020, but said he had considered the party a work gathering that fell within the rules.

He has urged critics to wait for Gray’s report, which is expected to be published next week.

The threshold for a confidence vote in Johnson has yet to be breached, with several Conservative lawmakers saying they would hold off from calling for one until the investigation into the lockdown-breaking parties had been completed.

But David Davis, a former Cabinet minister who in Parliament on Wednesday dramatically urged Johnson “In the name of God, go,” said any reprieve was likely temporary.

“The party is going to have to make a decision or we face dying a death of 1,000 cuts,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

READ MORE: Johnson fights for survival as Conservatives openly fight over 'partygate'

Source: TRTWorld and agencies