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Tories 'threatened defecting MP Christian Wakeford with scrapping new school' amid blackmail claims

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
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The former Tory MP who sensationally defected to Labour has claimed funding within his constituency was threatened if he did not vote with the Conservatives.

Christian Wakeford, MP for South Bury, told reporters that when he was in the Tory party, he was ordered to vote a certain way or a school in his constituency would not go ahead.

He is one of a group of MPs who snatched seats off Labour in the northern 'Red Wall', which gave Johnson his decisive victory in the 2019 general election.

Speaking to BBC North West, he said: “I was threatened that I would not get the school for Radcliffe if I did not vote in one particular way. This is a town that’s not had a high school for the best part of 10 years.

“How would you feel when holding back regeneration of a town for a vote, it didn’t sit comfortably. That was really starting to question my place where I was and ultimately to where I am now.”

Read more: Boris Johnson denies reports of MPs being blackmailed over plot to overthrow him

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with Bury South MP Christian Wakeford, who has defected from the Conservatives to Labour, in his office in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster. Picture date: Wednesday January 19, 2022.
MP Christian Wakeford with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Finchley Memorial Hospital in North London Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022.
Boris Johnson has been clinging to power as he faces accusations of lying over the Partygate scandal (PA)

His allegation comes amid claims of a culture of intimidation within the Conservative ranks.

On Thursday Tory MP William Wragg accused the government of blackmailing their own MPs over the Partygate scandal which has engulfed Boris Johnson in recent weeks.

He alleged that threats were made to cut funding to the constituencies of MPs who opposed Johnson and that embarrassing stories would be leaked to the press.

Boris Johnson has claimed not to have seen evidence to support allegations.

In trying to defend his boss, Tory MP Michael Fabricant seemed to confirm that the culture exists within the party, saying police wouldn't have time to look at anything else if everyone reported threatening behaviour in parliament.

Tory MP Michael Fabricant tweeted in defence of the allegations (TwitterP
Tory MP Michael Fabricant tweeted in defence of the allegations (TwitterP

He tweeted: "If I reported every time I had been threatened by a Whip or if a Whip reported every time I had threatened them, the police wouldn’t have any time to conduct any other police work! What nonsense from WW."

LBC's political correspondent Ben Kentish also hinted at intimidation and blackmail was used last year, when Tories were ordered to vote against extending free school meals.

LBC's Ben Kentish tweeted of allegations made in October 2020 (Twitter)
LBC's Ben Kentish tweeted of allegations made in October 2020 (Twitter)

He tweeted: "I was told by Tory MPs, at the height of the Rashford row, that members of the govt were threatening to withhold money from schools in their (deprived) constituencies if they voted to extend free school meals. These practices aren’t new but Will Wragg has shone a light on them.

"This was in Oct 2020 when Labour was forcing a vote on free school meals & some Tory MPs were threatening to vote with Labour (5 did so). There was a lot of strong-arming of Tory MPs including these threats. I included it in coverage of the story at the time. Govt later U-turned."

Watch: William Wragg accuses Number 10 of intimidating and blackmailing their own MPs

Wakeford defected to Labour party just minutes before prime minister's questions amid a growing row over Boris Johnson's confession he went to a party in Downing Street during lockdown.

He told Johnson that “you and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.

On Tuesday, Wakeford, while still a member of the Conservatives, confirmed to Yahoo News UK that he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the 1922 Committee, and warned of growing discontent in the intake of 2019 Tory MPs.

The Tory party have seen a steady decline in the polls since the allegations were made public (PA)
The Tory party have seen a steady decline in the polls since the allegations were made public (PA)
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