'My whips were a lot shorter than I was' Kwarteng laughs off No10 'blackmail' claims

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that it’s farfetched to think that Boris Johnson would ever adopt tactics such as instructing his whips to blackmail Tory rebels. The Prime Minister has been accused of deploying daunting strategies, involving intimidation against the Tory MPs he suspects of holding their cards close to their chests and plotting his removal from the office. Mr Kwarteng maintained it would be out of character for the Prime Minister to do that as he laid emphasis on the fact that Tory whips are very limited in what they can do as the don’t possess powers such as witholding funds from their constituencies.

After already being embroiled in a crisis over allegations of parties in 2020 and 2021, while Britain was plunged in a lockdown, the latest accusations will do nothing to lift the pressure on Mr Johnson.

LBC’s Nick Ferrari asked Mr Kwarteng whether the Prime Minister, with whom he forges a close bond with both from a professional viewpoint and on a personal level, would ever “endorse tactics” such as blackmailing people.

Mr Kwarted immediately shrugged off the allegations, saying: “Not at all.

“Look I’ve been an MP for 12 years, I’ve never heard of anything like that. Whips generally try to persuade MPs to support the government.

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“There are ways that they do that but I’ve never heard any suggestions that people were withholding funds.

“And actually if you look at the process and if there is anyone who knows anything about whips they can’t do that, they don’t have it in their power to withhold funds or grant funds to local communities.

“That’s done in an official way, it’s done in a neutral way, it’s done impartially.

“And it’s completely irregular and unacceptable for whips to be suggesting to MPs that they weren’t getting money for their schools and hospitals.”

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon turned the screw on Mr Johnson, stating that it would be “corruption” if the allegations turn out to be substantiated.

She said: “If Tories are threatening to withhold public investment from constituencies as a way of keeping MPs in line then, yes, that’s blackmail and intimidation.

“But it is also corruption.

“The moral decay at the heart of Johnson’s government may be even worse than we thought.”

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