Chief whip arrives at Downing Street
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The Conservative party has been plunged into yet another crisis after Conservative MP for Hazel Grove, William Wragg, accused some whips of using blackmail and intimation tactics to persuade MPs to vote with the Government. He told a hearing of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: “The intimidation of a Member of Parliament is a serious matter. Moreover, the reports of which I’m aware would seem to constitute blackmail.”
Former Conservative MP Christian Wakefield, who crossed the floor to Labour this week, also alleges that he was told a key project wouldn’t get funding in his consistency if he didn’t toe the party line.
Speaking to ITV News he said: “I was threatened that I would not get the school for Radcliffe if I did not vote in one particular way.”
Boris Johnson insisted he had “seen no evidence” to support the claim but Mr Wragg says he will be speaking to a Met Police detective in the House of Commons early next week.
But the claims have called into question how the whipping system works. Express.co.uk takes a look at who’s who among the Tory whips.
What do the whips do?
Whips are tasked with keeping MPs and peers in line with their party’s position and will encourage rebel MPs and peers not to vote against their party.
The tactics whips use to maintain their party’s line varies. But often potential rebels will be told that they won’t be considered for ministerial jobs or select committee roles if they refuse to vote with their party.
The use of the word “whip” within parliament comes from the 18th-century hunting term of “whipper-in” – a huntsman’s assistant who drove hounds that were falling behind back into the main pack using a whip.
Journalist Jeremy Paxman described the whips as “keepers of Parliament’s dark secrets and custodians of the baubles of public life”.
Whips are responsible for judging the mood of the backbenchers and for reporting any discontent to the Cabinet or if there is likely to be significant rebellion against a certain policy.
Who are the Conservative whips?
All political parties have whips, but it’s the Tory whips who are currently at the centre of allegations of blackmail and intimidation tactics – of which there are a total of 17.
The Chief Tory whip is Mark Spencer, who is the leader of the whips and is in charge of the whipping system. He has held this position since July 24, 2019.
Stuart Andrew is the Deputy Chief Whip – he was appointed on February 13, 2020.
Marcus Jones holds the role of Comptroller of HM Household (Government Whip), while James Morris is Vice Chamberlain of HM Household (Government Whip).
These House of Commons whips are supported by numerous others, including:
- Rebecca Harris MP – Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
- Michael Tomlinson MP – Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
- Alan Mak MP – Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
- Lee Rowley MP – Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
- Amanda Solloway MP – Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
- Craig Whittaker MP – Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury)
- David TC Davies MP – Assistant Government Whip
- James Cartlidge MP – Assistant Government Whip
- Heather Wheeler MP – Assistant government whip
- Andrea Jenkyns MP – Assistant Government Whip
- Steve Double – Assistant government whip
- Gareth Johnson MP – Assistant Government Whip
- Scott Mann MP – Assistant Government Whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury)
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