Today’s papers carry claims Boris Johnson’s allies used “blackmail” and other “dirty tactics” to intimidate Tory defectors plotting his ousting.
Metro writes rebel Conservatives were “blackmailed to back Boris”, citing allegations by William Wragg that MPs were threatened with damaging press stories and funding cuts to their constituencies.
The Guardian also splashes with allegations “dirty tactics” have been employed by Tory whips to douse no-confidence votes.
The Daily Mirror focuses on blackmail claims made by Christian Wakeford who defected to Labour this week, citing the MP as saying: “I was threatened that I would not get (a new school for Radcliffe) if I did not vote in one particular way”.
The Independent quotes rebel Tory MP Andrew Bridgen as saying: “I was one of the first MPs out of the blocks calling for Boris Johnson to go, and within days there was a smear story out there. That wasn’t just to intimidate me, it was used to intimidate other people”.
The PM’s position is precarious as Conservative rebels regroup ahead of Sue Gray’s report into No 10’s lockdown parties, i reports. The paper cites a Cabinet minister who said Mr Johnson faces a “death by a thousand cuts”.
The Daily Star continues with its “lame duck” theme in response to the political crisis and appears to have sent one of its reporters to Downing Street dressed as a duck.
Elsewhere, the Daily Express writes the Chancellor is considering a one-off £500 pay-out to Britons struggling with household energy costs.
The Daily Mail writes unions are “at war” with the PM over his push to get workers, particularly civil servants, back in the office.
The Daily Telegraph reports on the public’s reaction to the easing of Covid restrictions, writing schools are defying Mr Johnson on masks with “over 100 head teachers” telling parents that students need to continue wearing masks in the classroom.
And the Financial Times reports Ukraine has “hit back at (US President) Joe Biden’s suggestion that a ‘minor incursion’ by Russian forces into the country might not prompt a severe allied response”.