Gavin Williamson accused of threatening MP over school funding

Christian Wakeford said ex-education secretary warned funding for new local school could be pulled if he voted against the Government.

Gavin Cordon
Saturday 22 January 2022 21:53
Former education secretary Gavin Williamson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Former education secretary Gavin Williamson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Former education secretary Gavin Williamson has been accused of threatening to withdraw funding for a school in the constituency of MP who was considering voting against the Government

When he defected from the Tories to Labour on Wednesday, Bury South MP Christian Wakeford said he had previously been warned funding for a new high school would not go ahead if he voted for a motion criticising the Government over free school meals.

At the time he did not say who was responsible, but speaking to The Sunday Times he said it was Mr Williamson.

Christian Wakeford said Mr Williamson warned funding for a new school could be withdrawn (House of Commons/PA)

He said that Mr Williamson, a former chief whip, had pulled him out of the House of Commons dining room and told him: “It’s not very helpful to back an opposition (motion) against the department where you’re wanting an extremely large favour from said department, so do consider what you’re doing.”

Mr Wakeford added: “I know the maxim is ‘once a whip, always a whip’, but yeah, that one was Gavin.”

In the event, the MP chose to abstain in the debate in October 2020 and funding for the school went through as planned the following February.

In response, Mr Williamson told the paper that he did not remember any such conversation taking place with Mr Wakeford.

“I don’t have any recollection of the conversation as described but what I do remember is working tirelessly with Christian and others in order to be able to deliver this school, which I did,” he said.

“Such major investment decisions are made after close analysis of the benefits that the investment will bring and certainly not something that can be decided in a brief conversation like the one described.”

The claim comes as William Wragg, the senior Tory who first raised concerns about the intimidatory tactics used by the whips against MPs calling for Boris Johnson to resign, is set to meet police to discuss the issue.

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