A ROW over alleged attempts by government whips to "blackmail" MPs into withdrawing letters of no confidence in Boris Johnson has escalated as more politicians back the claims. 

William Wragg, Tory MP for Hazel Grove, said that MPs had faced “pressures and intimidation” from the government with threats of bad publicity and constituency funding being pulled.

The senior Tory's statement has resulted in Speaker Lindsay Hoyle commenting on the issue and MPs coming forward to back the claims - including Christian Wakeford, the Tory MP who defected to Labour just minutes before PMQs on Wednesday.

The SNP have said the claims show an "attack on democracy" to save Johnson's skin, while the Prime Minister has said he has seen "no evidence" to support the allegations.

It comes after Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said that on Wednesday evening there was a “significant” operation underway by the whip’s office, in an attempt to get MPs to withdraw their letters to the 1922 committee.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson laughs at Ian Blackford's question and refuses to resign

Ross also said that reaching the 54 letters needed to trigger the vote was “closer than further away”.

However, come Thursday morning it appears some MPs have rescinded their letters and now Wragg has urged any MPs who felt pressured to report to the police.

Wragg, chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, is one of a handful of Tory MPs to have said publicly they have submitted a letter to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady calling for a no-confidence vote.

Speaking as the committee prepared to take evidence from the Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay, he said the conduct of the Government whips office threatening to withdraw public funding from MPs’ constituencies may have breached the Ministerial Code.

In a statement, Wragg said: “In recent days, 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 no confidence in the party leadership of the Prime Minister.

“It is of course the duty of the government whip's office to secure the government’s business in the House of Commons.

The National:

Wragg urged MPs to report concerns to the Speaker or police

“However, it is not their function to breach the ministerial code in threatening to withdraw investments from Members of Parliament’s constituencies which are funded from the public purse.

“Additionally, reports to me and others of members of staff at Number 10 Downing Street, special advisers, government ministers and others, encouraging the publication of stories in the press, seeking to embarrass those who they suspect of lacking confidence in the Prime Minister is similarly unacceptable.

“The intimidation of a Member of Parliament is a serious matter. Moreover, the reports of which I’m aware, would constitute blackmail.

“As such, it would be my general advice to colleagues to report these matters to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police and they’re also welcome to contact me at any time.”

Wakeford, who is now a Labour MP, told the BBC: "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."

A Labour source said the vote in question related to free school meals.

The National:

Wakeford, centre, defected to Labour on Wednesday just before PMQs

And, we told in November how MPs were reportedly told they would "lost funding for their constituency" if they didn't vote to protect now former MP Owen Paterson from suspension. 

Meanwhile, Tory MP Michael Fabricant, a former whip, appeared to confirm the allegations whilst still backing the PM.

He said on Twitter: "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 [William Wragg]."

In the Commons, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it would be a “contempt” to obstruct MPs in doing their duties by trying to “intimidate” them.

He noted “serious allegations” had been made by Wragg, before offering general guidance to MPs as he had not yet had a chance to study the specific details.

He said: “The investigation of allegedly criminal conduct is a matter for the police, and decisions about prosecution are for the CPS.

“It will be wrong of me to interfere with such matters.

“While the whipping system is long-established, it is of course a contempt to obstruct members in the discharge of their duty or to attempt to intimidate a member in their parliamentary conduct by threats.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner called for the “shocking accusations” of bullying and blackmail to be investigated.

READ MORE: Tory MSP Sharon Dowey stuns Scottish Parliament with answer on child safety

She tweeted: “These are shocking accusations of bullying, blackmail (and) bad behaviour from people in positions of power.

“We need this to be investigated thoroughly.”

Inverclyde SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, said: "This is a case of cash for no questions asked.

"It is reprehensible that Conservative MPs who have lost faith in their Prime Minister are being threatened that money designated for important projects in their constituencies could be withdrawn if they exercise their right to express discontent with the Prime Minister.

"We are also hearing that they are being threatened with smear stories.

"Importantly, these are allegations coming from within the Conservative and Unionist Party.

"Their in-fighting is legendary, but in this case it directly affects government funding for constituency affairs.

"I listened to William Wragg in near disbelief at the committee. He alleges blackmail that should be reported to the police.

"This is an attack on democracy to save the skin of a desperate Prime Minister."

No 10 says it is “not aware of any evidence to support what are clearly serious allegations” but will look at any evidence “very carefully”.

Asked about the allegations on Thursday, the Prime Minister said: “I see no evidence and have heard no evidence to support any of those allegations”

It comes amid reports that the defection of former red wall Tory MP Christian Wakeford has “calmed the nerves” of those in the Tory benches jostling for Johnson to stand down.

Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, said that Wakeford’s announcement that he was joining the Labour party minutes before PMQs on Wednesday had focussed the minds of those impatient with Johnson.

The National:

Johnson was told to resign multiple times during PMQs this week

He said: “It’s kind of made people a bit more relaxed, it’s calmed nerves.

“I think people have recognised that actually this constant navel-gazing and internal debating is only to the advantage of our political opponents.

“The Prime Minister is probably thanking Christian for what he did because it’s made a lot of people think again, think twice.”

Health Secretary Savid Javid said the PM is safe in his job now but told Sky News: “It is damaging, of course it is.”