The deputy prime minister and at least one other cabinet member were personally involved in “manipulating” Conservative MPs through the lobby into voting against Labor’s motion to ban fracking, said Labor MP Chris Bryant.
The vote turned into chaos after climate minister Graham Stuart caused confusion by saying to the House of Commons at the end of the debate: ‘This is clearly not a confidence vote.’
This was in direct contradiction to previous briefings, when Conservative whips initially stated that the vote was being treated as a ‘confidence motion’ in the controversial government of Liz Truss.
But when Conservative MP Ruth Edwards (Rushcliffe) asked to clarify whether the Tories who abstain or vote against the motion will lose the party whip, Stuart added: ‘That’s a matter for party managers, and I’m not a party manager. ‘
The government tonight defeated Labor’s bid to ban fracking amid farcical scenes in the House of Commons.
Allegations of bullying were leveled against government whips, with former Labor minister Chris Bryant saying some MPs had been “physically assaulted in another lobby and bullied”.
He told Sky he had seen Conservative MP Alex Stafford being ‘manipulated’ through the lobby by a group of MPs including Therese Coffey, Deputy Prime Minister and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
But Mr Stafford later tweeted that “nobody is pushing me” in a denial of Mr Bryant’s version of events.
Labor MP Chris Bryant shared this photo on Twitter and according to him, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Therese Coffey shows Tory MP Alex Stafford through the lobby to vote against Labor’s motion on fracking
Chris Bryant speaks to the Deputy Speaker in the House of Commons and demands an investigation into the ins and outs of the lobby
Sources close to Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey have also denied she was involved in “assault”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has also denied the claims, saying there was a “heated exchange” but no harassment.
He said, “There were discussions going on, and there was a discussion about the vote that took place, and this is what normally happens outside the division lobby.”
“I heard someone swearing and using an expletive… a conservative, when he went into the division lobby, cursed and said, sort of ‘get on with it’, but he didn’t say it to one person.
“I didn’t see any bullying and I didn’t see anyone being mistreated.”
Mr Rees-Mogg said there had been “confusion” after a No. 10 “junior official” relayed a message to the government bank that it was no longer a confidence vote.
“No one else knew about that. Most members thought it was a vote of confidence,” he said.
Mr Bryant told the Speaker shortly after the result of the vote was announced: ‘I would urge you to investigate the scenes outside the lobby earlier. As you know, members are expected to vote without fear or favour.
And the code of conduct agreed upon throughout the house says members will never be bullied or harassed.
‘I saw members being physically abused in another lobby and being bullied’
“If we want to stop bullying in this house of our staff, we need to stop bullying in this room.”
While Mr Bryant was speaking, several other Labor MPs could be heard behind him, claiming that some who were forced to vote by Conservatives were ‘weeping’.
He added to Sky News: ‘In the area where you enter the no lobby, where the Tory whips were collected, MPs were clearly unsure whether to vote with or against the Labor motion because of what had happened. said in the room…
“There was a group of several cabinet members who basically yelled at them and at least one member was physically pulled through the door into the voting lobby.
‘That’s not right at all in our system.
“I’ve never seen a member physically assaulted by a division lobby.
“Four members I think. I know Therese Coffey was in the group and Jacob Rees-Mogg in the group, and there were others as well.
“The group all moved forward with the one member, and that person was, in my opinion, he will have to speak for himself, he was physically abused in the lobby in my opinion.”
He called the MP in question Alexander Stafford, but Mr Stafford has since said on Twitter that “nobody is pushing me”.
Liz Truss is known to have not voted tonight – after whips threatened to remove the whip of a MP who did not vote against the motion.
He added that he has photos of the scenes in the lobby that he will pass on to the chairman and deputy.
Mr Bryant also said that before MPs resorted to beatings, there was talk of “very aggressive” pointing.
He concluded: ‘I have been a Member of Parliament for 21 years. I’ve never seen that before.’
It was thought that both Chief Conservative Whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker had resigned after the disorderly vote, after multiple sources said Ms Morton walked into the lobby and said ‘I’m no longer the Chief Whip’ before storming out. , followed by Liz Truss.
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg was asked live on Sky News whether the Chief Whip would remain in office, but said he did not know.
After more than two hours, No10 confirmed shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday that both the Chief Whip and Deputy Sheriff remain on duty.
A miserable cabinet source told MailOnline: ‘At this rate, I’ll be Prime Minister at Christmas.
“Since the day of her appointment, the notebook for Wendy had been hanging on the wall.”
Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said he was “not quite clear about chief whip.”
Meanwhile, Chris Walker, a 17-year-old Conservative MP, told the BBC: ‘This whole affair is unforgivable. It is a pitiful reflection on the Conservative Party.’
When asked if there is a way back for the government, Mr Walker said, ‘I don’t think so.’
He added: ‘This is an absolute disgrace.
“I think it’s a mess and a disgrace. I’m furious.
“I hope all those people who put Liz Truss at number 10, I hope it was worth it. […] Because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary.’
‘I’m done with it. I’ve had enough of talentless people who tick the right boxes, not because it’s in the national interest, but because it’s in their personal interest.’
But former culture ministers described Mr Bryant’s comments as “nonsense”, despite dozens of tweets from MPs in the lobby at the time that appear to support his claims.
Previously, Commerce Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to limit the uprising by insisting that communities have a ‘veto’ over fracking in their area.
He said the national government would not be able to override community objections, with an option being considered regarding local referendums for areas where fracking is proposed.
Mr Rees-Mogg, in a message addressed to Conservative MPs, told the House of Commons: ‘There is an absolute local consent lock.
“Every process to determine local consent must be conducted independently and this House will vote on every plan we put forward.”
The Labor motion was defeated by 230 votes to 326, majority 96, but the House of Commons heard there were “very strong rumours” that Head of Government Wendy Morton had resigned.
The government of Liz Truss was in the throes of a bigger mass collapse tonight after Suella Braverman stepped down as Secretary of the Interior just hours before Chief Whip also left.
On another day of madness in Westminster, Mrs. Braverman was removed for violating protocol by sending an email from her personal account to a contact detailing an immigration policy announcement.
It is unclear whether she resigned herself or was asked by the prime minister.
But in another hammer blow to the prime minister’s chances of holding on, she also complained that the government was breaking promises. She swipes that when people made “mistakes” – something Ms. Truss has admitted – the right thing to do was to stop.
Ms Truss responded with a much shorter letter saying it is “important that the ministerial code is observed” and quickly installed Grant Shapps – a supporter of Rishi Sunak – as a replacement.
But the sense of a rudderless government later deepened in the House of Commons. In another sign of evaporating government control, 40 MPs declined to support the government in a vote on fracking.