UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been under pressure for weeks over alleged summer garden parties and Christmas gatherings held in Downing Street when the rest of the country was under strict Covid-19 lockdowns. A report into the allegations, set to be released this week, could be the final straw for Johnson’s increasingly mutinous party.
The parliamentary rebellion is growing. One Conservative MP defected to the opposition Labour Party last week and newspapers have reported rumors of more lawmakers demanding Johnson’s exit.
On Thursday, as more Conservative lawmakers openly criticized the prime minister about the parties, allegations emerged of blackmail and bullying by government officials.
Conservative MP William Wragg said Thursday that “a number of members of parliament have faced pressures and intimidation from members of the government because of their declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence in the party leadership of the Prime Minister.”
Wragg told the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that the reports he has been made aware of “would seem to constitute blackmail.”
Johnson dismissed the reports of bullying, saying he has “seen no evidence” to support accusations of intimidation leveled at his government by a Conservative lawmaker.
Under Conservative party rules, if MPs want to get rid of their leader, they submit a confidential letter of no confidence to the chair of the 1922 Committee, a group of backbench MPs who do not hold government posts. The process is murky — the letters are kept secret and the chairman, Graham Brady, doesn’t even reveal how many have been handed in.
When 15% of Conservative lawmakers have submitted letters, it triggers a vote of confidence among all Conservative lawmakers.
CNN’s Luke McGee, Lauren Kent, Duarte Mendonca, Richard Allen Greene, Robert Iddiols and Sharon Braithwaite contributed to this report.