SOUTH Cumbrian MPs Tim Farron and Simon Fell have clashed in opinion over allegations of blackmail in the Tory Party.

Downing Street is resisting opening an investigation into allegations of Tory MPs being blackmailed into supporting Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he faces a threat to his leadership, despite a Cabinet minister saying they need to be looked at.

Tim Farron, South Lakes MP, said: “If true, these allegations that members of the Government are threatening to pull public funding from the constituencies of Conservative MPs who object to the Prime Minister breaking lockdown rules are absolutely appalling.

“This would be nothing short of corruption and must be investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

“The longer Boris Johnson remains as Prime Minister of our country, the worse public trust in our democracy will get.

Tim Farron MP

Tim Farron MP

“He made the rules, then broke the rules and now claims he didn’t know the rules. He partied while millions made huge sacrifices. He must resign.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng disputed the allegation first made by a senior Conservative, but said if true it would be "completely unacceptable" and ministers "need to get to the bottom of the matter".

But No 10 suggested on Friday that an investigation will only be launched "if there was any evidence" to support the claims, despite calls from Labour and Tory MPs.

William Wragg said critics considering triggering a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister were receiving threats to "withdraw investments" from constituencies, as well as "intimidation" from No 10 staff.

Simon Fell, MP for Barrow, said: "There are so many rumours, claims and counter-claims flying around at the moment.

"I haven't seen anything like this happening at all - putting a bid in for a new project or funding means following a formal process which is rightly civil-service led - that very fact means that threats like these just don't ring true."

OPINION: MP Simon Fell

OPINION: MP Simon Fell

The claims of intimidation come as Mr Johnson battles to remain in power ahead of the result of senior civil servant Sue Gray's inquiry into allegations of rule-breaking partying during coronavirus restrictions.