NICOLA Sturgeon has said she is “shocked” by claims UK Government whips attempted to “blackmail” Tory MPs to save Boris Johnson’s job.

The First Minister, speaking ahead of FMQs in Holyrood, said that the allegations were “gravely serious”, particularly as government officials appeared to be using public funds, and that there should be an independent investigation.

It comes after a senior Tory MP made a statement on Thursday where he told any MPs who had been “intimidated” to contact the Speaker or police.

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Reports have said that government whips have been trying to get MPs to withdraw their letters of no confidence in Johnson from the 1922 committee.

The required threshold of 54 letters – to trigger a no confidence vote – appeared to be in reach on Wednesday evening, after Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said that it was “closer than further away” from reaching the final number.

However, Ross noted that whips were undertaking a “significant” operation in a bid to get MPs to rescind their letters.

On Thursday, Tory MP William Wragg said in a statement that the conduct of the Government whips office threatening to withdraw public funding from MPs’ constituencies may have breached the Ministerial Code.

And speaking ahead of FMQs, Sturgeon said that there should be an investigation.

“These are gravely serious allegations – intimidation, bullying, blackmail – and using public money to do it is the allegation," she commented.

“I would suggest that these accusations need to be fully and crucially independently investigated.

“Everyday right now Boris Johnson is tarnishing the office of PM and I think if he had concerns for the interests of the country he will go.”

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Asked if the allegations surprise her, the First Minister said that they “shocked” her.

The First Minister later said on Twitter that the allegations showed the "moral decay" of Johnson's government. 

She said: "Let’s be clear: if Tories are threatening to withhold public investment from constituencies as a way of keeping MPs in line then, yes, that’s blackmail & intimidation - but it is also corruption.

"The moral decay at the heart of Johnson’s govt may be even worse than we thought."

The National:

The FM called for a probe into the claims which she said showed "corruption" in the UK government 

Meanwhile, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said he has not heard from MP colleagues who claim to have been intimidated.

He said: “I’ve refereed Buckie v Deveronvale (and) Wick v Brora, so I don’t think people would try and intimidate me, those games certainly didn’t, and nobody in Government has tried to do that either.”

He added: “I think anyone in the Conservative Party would be disappointed to hear these allegations and it’s right that they are properly investigated.”


In the Commons, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle warned 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.”