Former Welsh Secretary criticises committee chairman over Tory ‘blackmail’ claim
A former Welsh Secretary has criticised the chairman of a committee on which he sits for using his position to claim that the UK Government was attempting to “blackmail” MPs into backing Boris Johnson.
William Wragg, who is chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said in an opening statement on Thursday that he advised colleagues who feel threatened to go to the police.
Clwyd West MP David Jones who sits on the committee however said that the statement should not have been made without prior discussion with other members.
“The impression was given that the statement was a committee statement, and it wasn’t — it was a personal statement,” he told The Times.
“Anything that is purported to be said on behalf of the committee should be discussed by the committee. That was not discussed. None of the members of the committee so far as I’m aware knew precisely what he was going to say. All they knew was that he was going to say something.
“He told us literally minutes before the committee started that he was going to make a statement, he wouldn’t tell us what the nature of the statement was, and when he did make the statement it was as much of a surprise to us as it was to anybody else.”
William Wragg is to meet with police next week to discuss his allegations, including that MPs had been threatened with having UK Government funding for their constituencies withdrawn.
Another Welsh MP, Chris Bryant who represents Rhondda, said that he had spoken to other Conservative MPs who had made similar allegations.
“I’ve even heard MPs alleging that the prime minister himself has been doing this,” Bryant, who is chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He added that there had been “a steady erosion of standards in the way we allocate funding”.
William Wragg has defended making the announcement at the start of the committee.
“The statement was made in my role as chairman,” he said. “Given the sensitivities, I discussed the matter with the Speaker before the committee session. Each member of the committee is entitled to their own view.
“We work well together because of this diverse range of experiences we bring, but all with a commitment to proper scrutiny.”
Downing Street said it had not seen any proof of the behaviour he alleges. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he would look into the allegations.
“I’ve seen no evidence, heard no evidence, to support any of those allegations,” he said.
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