Downing Street’s attempts to ‘blackmail’ Tory MPs seeking to oust Boris Johnson are ‘illegal’, the chair of the Commons ‘sleaze’ watchdog warned today.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons Standards Committee, said alleged threats to withdraw public funding from MPs’ constituencies amounted to ‘misconduct in public office’ and should be referred to the Metropolitan Police.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, he said there were allegations that the embattled Prime Minister had even been directly involved as he fights to save his skin ahead of Sue Gray’s report into the ‘Partygate’ drama enveloping Westminster.

Mr Bryant also warned that the Prime Minister might not publish Miss Gray’s report in full ‘if he doesn’t like the full text’, adding: ‘The fish rots from the head down’. 

His intervention came after William Wragg, the senior Conservative MP who first raised concerns about attempted ‘blackmail’ by No10, disclosed that he is to meet Scotland Yard chiefs to discuss his claims.

Mr Bryant said he had spoken to ‘about a dozen’ Conservatives in recent days who had either been threatened by Government whips with having funding cut from their constituencies or promised funding if they voted ‘the right way’.

‘I have even heard MPs alleging that the Prime Minister himself has been doing this,’ Mr Bryant told the Today programme.

‘What I have said to all of those people is that I think that is misconduct in public office. Police officers should deal with these allegations.

‘We are not the United States. We don’t run a “pork barrel” system. It’s illegal. This is against the law. The allocation of taxpayer funding to constituencies should be according to need, not according to the need to keep the Prime Minister in his job.’

An earlier statement by Mr Wragg indicated that he will be speaking to a Met detective at the House of Commons in early next week. It raised the possibility of an investigation being opened by police.

The information was made public after Downing Street denied it would be starting its own inquiry into claims, despite repeated calls from both Conservative and opposition MPs.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons Standards Committee, said alleged threats to withdraw public funding from MPs’ constituencies amounted to ‘misconduct in public office’ and should be referred to the Metropolitan Police

Downing Street’s attempts to pressure Tory MPs seeking to oust Boris Johnson are ‘illegal’, the chair of the Commons ‘sleaze’ watchdog warned today

Downing Street’s attempts to pressure Tory MPs seeking to oust Boris Johnson are ‘illegal’, the chair of the Commons ‘sleaze’ watchdog warned today

William Wragg, the senior Conservative MP who shocked the country after raising concerns about attempted ‘blackmail’ by No10, disclosed that he is to meet Scotland Yard chiefs to discuss his claims

William Wragg, the senior Conservative MP who shocked the country after raising concerns about attempted ‘blackmail’ by No10, disclosed that he is to meet Scotland Yard chiefs to discuss his claims

“Boris Johnson is not fit for office”: Ruth Davidson is ex-leader of Scotland’s Tory Party and takes aim at PM. She warns that he’s in a perilous position’ due to growing fatigue among the MPs. 

Boris Johnson has demonstrated that he is ‘unfit for office’ over the ‘Partygate’ drama, a former Scottish Conservative leader has claimed.

Tory peer Ruth Davidson, who successfully campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014 and quit frontline politics five years later, said the Prime Minister is in a ‘perilous situation’ ahead of Sue Gray’s report into the lockdown party scandal.

The former MSP stated that she had already sent her no confidence letter in Mr Johnson to The Times, if she was a member of Parliament.

She also warned that Mr Johnson’s authority was teetering in part because of a growing ‘fatigue’ within the party ‘for the amount of drama that has been emanating from No10’ over allegations of lockdown-busting gatherings across government.

‘I didn’t support him for the leadership and I believe what has been exposed to have happened in the last few weeks shows that he’s unfit for office,’ she told the paper.

Miss Davidson has previously launched attacks on plans by Mr Johnson’s government to force people to show ID to be allowed to vote at elections, and its policy on Britain’s departure from the EU.

A No10 spokesman said it would only open an inquiry if it was presented with evidence to back up Mr Wragg’s assertions.

However, the MP, who chairs the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said he believed an investigation should be for the ‘experts’ in the police.

He told The Telegraph that he would outline ‘several’ examples of bullying and intimidation, in some cases involving public money.

‘I stand by what I have said. No amount of gas-lighting will change that,’ he told the 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.’

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘As with any such allegations, should a criminal offence be reported to the Met, it would be considered.’

Mr Wragg’s latest intervention comes as No10 is braced for the expected delivery next week of the report of Miss Gray, the senior civil servant investigating lockdown parties in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall.

It is likely to lead to renewed calls from opposition parties for a police investigation if there is any evidence Covid rules were broken — including at a drinks do in May 2020 attended by Mr Johnson.

Westminster stunned when Mr Wragg, who is one of seven Tory MPs that called for the resignation of Prime Minister Tony Blair, claimed this week that No10 had conducted a campaign against him, resulting in criminal conduct.

Christian Wakeford was the Bury South MP that defected to Labour and later said how Tory whips warned him about funding for new schools in his constituency, if he refused to vote for free school meals.

Ministers attempted to deny the claims, insisting that whips were not involved in the allocation of public money.

The latest disclosures will only fuel the febrile mood at Westminster, with Mr Johnson’s political survival hanging in the balance.

Mr Wakeford’s defection appeared to have put the plotting on hold as Tory MPs publicly rallied behind the leadership while the rebels largely went to ground.

However, the publication of Miss Gray’s report represents another moment of danger, potentially triggering a fresh wave of letters to the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady.

According to party rules, Mr Johnson can be given a confidence vote only if 53 of the party’s members send a letter to Sir Graham requesting one. 

Johnson is scheduled to spend Saturday at Chequers, the official residence of the country, encouraging rebels not to drop the dagger.

The Times reported that Prime Minister Tony Blair had reconfigured the ministerial teams which supported him in his leadership run for 2019, as he sought to increase support.

Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) is said to be playing an important role along with three ex-whips and loyalists. 

Rebel Tories have threatened to release a secret recording of Government whips allegedly making ‘blackmail’ threats. Backbenchers who want the chaos to end with the Prime Minister claim they taped party enforcers bullying MPs. They also claimed to possess copies of text messages.

Mr Johnson insisted on Thursday he had ‘seen no evidence’ to support the claim made by Mr Wragg that his critics were facing ‘intimidation’. 

These include an incendiary claim by Mr Wakeford, a defector who claimed that he was warned not to support the government’s decision to cut free food for his pupils if he didn’t find a school for Bury South.

Poll this week suggested Mr Johnson's popularity ratings have sunk to a similar level as Jeremy Corbyn before the 2019 general election, while Rishi Sunak is being seen more favourably

According to a poll, Mr Johnson’s popularity rating has fallen to the same level as Jeremy Corbyn in advance of the 2019 general elections. Rishi Sunak however is seen positively.

Meanwhile, Sue Gray (pictured) was said to have found an email warning Mr Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds against holding a drinks party in the No 10 garden

Sue Gray (pictured), was reported to have received an email from Martin Reynolds’ principal private secretary, warning against the hosting of a drink party in No.10 garden.

According to Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss: “I want Boris Johnson as Prime Minister as long as it takes,” 

Liz Truss insisted yesterday that Boris Johnson should continue as Prime Minister for ‘as long as possible’ as Downing Street braced itself for the publication of the Partygate report.

The Foreign Secretary is a leading contender to replace the PM but scotched talk of any leadership contest – despite fears he could be challenged as early as next week.

To counter any potential threat, Johnson will be speaking to many Tory MPs at Chequers’ country retreat. Insiders believe similar meetings earlier this week helped defuse the threat of the ‘Pork Pie Plot’ coup by Red Wall MPs.

The official inquiry into the Partygate row by Whitehall ethics chief Sue Gray is expected to be published next week – and there is growing nervousness in Downing Street over what it will reveal. 

She is said to have found an email warning Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, against holding a drinks party in the No 10 garden during the first Covid lockdown.

The email, sent by a senior official, told Mr Reynolds the gathering ‘should be cancelled because it broke the rules’, according to ITV News.

Johnson admitted that he attended the meeting in question 25 minutes ago on May 20, 2020. However, he maintained that it was a work event for him and that it wasn’t against the rules.

Many MPs wait for the publication of the report to make a decision on whether they will submit confidence letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of 1922 Committee.

The Times reported that Tory MPs keen to see the back of Mr Johnson have secretly recorded ‘heated’ conversation with the chief whip Mark Spencer, as well as text messages to support the accusations.

The official inquiry into the Partygate row by Whitehall ethics chief Miss Gray is expected to be published next week – and there is growing nervousness in Downing Street over what it will reveal.

She is said to have found an email warning Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, against holding a drinks party in the No 10 garden during the first Covid lockdown.

The email, sent by a senior official, told Mr Reynolds the gathering ‘should be cancelled because it broke the rules’, according to ITV News.

Johnson admitted that he attended the meeting in question 25 minutes ago on May 20, 2020. However, he maintained that it was a work event for him and that it wasn’t against the rules.

Multiple MPs are waiting for the report’s publication to determine whether they will submit confidence letters to Sir Graham of the 1922 Committee.

Liz Truss was able to escape the Westminster storm as she flew with Defence Secretary, for security and trade talks.

She told reporters in Sydney yesterday that the PM ‘100 per cent’ has her backing.

Miss Truss said: ‘He is doing an excellent job. Britain was the first country to offer the Covid vaccine.

‘We’ve had a very successful booster programme. We’re now able to open up our economy… one of the fastest-growing economies in the G7. It is my wish that the Prime Minister continues to do a great job. His job is amazing. There is no leadership election.’

Miss Truss has previously been accused of ‘overdoing it’ by lining herself up as a potential successor to Mr Johnson, with her trip to Australia being likened to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s impromptu dash to Devon last week. 

Mr Sunak visited a business in Ilfracombe last Wednesday – deserting Mr Johnson during his torrid Prime Minister’s Questions. Senior Tories said his conspicuous absence made him look ‘too eager’.

Miss Truss consistently outscores her potential leadership rivals among Tory members – ConservativeHome’s latest poll gives her a favourability rating of 73, compared to the PM on minus 34.

Mr Johnson will use his meetings this weekend to urge MPs to ‘look at the bigger picture’, most notably the success of his strategy for dealing with the Omicron strain.

Last night fresh claims were made over details of the alleged Downing Street parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. The staff reportedly had a seven-hour party that lasted until midnight. Photos were also taken during the event. It was claimed some went down a slide belonging to Wilfred Johnson, the PM’s son.

With concern that only a summary of the parties will be published in the report, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said last night that it ‘must be open to scrutiny from all those who’ve lost loved ones and all those who stuck to the rules’.

It comes as a former Scottish Conservative leader claimed that Mr Johnson has demonstrated that he is ‘unfit for office’ over the ‘Partygate’ drama.

Tory peer Ruth Davidson, who successfully campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014 and quit frontline politics five years later, said the Prime Minister is in a ‘perilous situation’ ahead of Miss Gray’s report into the lockdown party scandal.

The former MSP stated that she had already sent her no confidence letter in Mr Johnson to The Times in a conversation with The Times.

She also warned that Mr Johnson’s authority was teetering in part because of a growing ‘fatigue’ within the party ‘for the amount of drama that has been emanating from No10’ over allegations of lockdown-busting gatherings across government.

‘I didn’t support him for the leadership and I believe what has been exposed to have happened in the last few weeks shows that he’s unfit for office,’ she told the paper.

Miss Davidson has previously launched attacks on plans by Mr Johnson’s government to force people to show ID to be allowed to vote at elections, and its policy on Britain’s departure from the EU.