Boris Johnson’s chief whip Mark Spencer has come under pressure following accusations of threatening behaviour.
It has been alleged the MP for Sherwood put several backbenchers under undue pressure to back government proposals as pressure mounts over bullying tactics in parliament.
This weekend the newly-defected Christian Wakeford accused former education secretary Gavin Williamson of threatening to withdraw funding for a school if he voted for a Labour measure criticising the government over the free school meals debacle.
The Bury South MP claimed that party whips told him he would lose funding for a new high school in his constituency if he did not vote with the government.
Wakeford subsequently identified Williamson, the former chief whip, in an interview with the Sunday Times.
Recalling the confrontation, he said Williamson 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.”
Wakeford added: “I know the maxim is ‘once a whip, always a whip’, but yeah, that one was Gavin.”
According to reports in the same newspaper, Spencer had similar dealings.
Colleagues say the chief whip is given to schoolboy humour and has private nicknames for many of his backbenchers: Anthony Mangnall, the MP for Totnes, is “Anthony Wanknall”. Tom Tugendhat, who represents Tonbridge & Malling, is “Tom Tugentwat”.
MPs have also criticised Spencer for insufficient seriousness and say he has little authority over them.
He even admitted to having“no real idea” how many Conservative MPs resented the idea of supporting Owen Parterson in the debacle that kicked off a long run of public grievances with the government.