January 22, 2022
LONDON (Reuters) – A British Conservative lawmaker said he would meet police to discuss his accusations that Boris Johnson’s government had attempted to “blackmail” parliamentarians who were suspected of trying to force the prime minister from office.
William Wragg, chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and a member of Johnson’s ruling party, said on Thursday some Conservatives had faced intimidation and blackmail from government representatives because of their desire to topple Johnson.
“I stand by what I have said. No amount of gaslighting will change that,” he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper. “The offer of Number 10 to investigate is kind but I shall leave it to the experts. I am meeting the police early next week.”
In response to Wragg’s allegations Johnson told broadcasters on Thursday that he had neither seen nor heard any evidence to support Wragg’s claims. His office has said it would look at any such evidence “very carefully”.
London’s Metropolitan Police said on Saturday it could not comment on any specific planned meetings.
“As with any such allegations, should a criminal offence be reported to the Met, it would be considered,” a spokesman said.
Johnson, who in 2019 won his party’s biggest majority in more than 30 years, is fighting to shore up his authority after a series of revelations about parties in his Downing Street residence during COVID-19 lockdowns.
The “partygate” scandals, which followed criticism of the government’s handling of a corruption row and other mis-steps, have dominated British politics for over a month, and drained public support from both Johnson personally and his party.
Johnson, who has repeatedly apologised for the parties and said he was unaware of many of them, has admitted he attended what he said he thought was a work event on May 20 last year, when social mixing was largely banned. Invitations had asked staff to “bring their own booze” to the event.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is expected to deliver a report into the parties next week, with many Conservative lawmakers saying they would await her findings before deciding whether they would take action to topple Johnson.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Frances Kerry)