William Wragg, the Conservative MP who led an attempted coup to oust the Prime Minister over Partygate in January, has lashed out over the “lack of transparency” in the Government. The Hazel Grove MP is chairman of the Commons Public Administration Committee and vice chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee which represents Tory backbenchers. While the latest row is about Parliamentary procedure, Mr Wragg’s intervention is a sign that rebels are getting themselves ready for another attempt to remove the Prime Minister.
Many have indicated that they are waiting for the local election results at the end of the week to decide on Mr Johnson’s future.
A wipeout in council elections could see momentum gather for a fresh start with Cabinet ministers already vying in an unofficial beauty contest.
In this latest row, Mr Wragg was enraged by the Government’s decision to announce it was carrying out a review of Freedom of Information just 24 hours before his Public Administration Committee was due to publish a report on the same issue.
He said: “The timing of this announcement suggests the Cabinet Office are more interested in news management than improving the transparency of government. The fact that we have been waiting eight months for these details clearly shows it is not a priority.
“To truly improve transparency, the Cabinet Office must accept the Information Commissioner’s offer of an independent audit and show leadership in this area as an example to the rest of Government.”
This is not the first time Mr Wragg has used his Commons committee chairmanship to attack his party leader.
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MPs are also waiting to see if Mr Johnson or other ministers receive any more fines while it has been reported that the full report by civil servant Sue Gray on Partygate in Downing Street will be “damning.”
A recent poll showed that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is the favourite among Tory voters to take over if Mr Johnson steps down.