Following numerous reports that Tory MPs were being threatened with funding cuts if they didn’t toe the party line in Commons votes, Good Law Project wrote to the Government asking for answers. Hard-up communities can’t be blackmailed in service of Owen Paterson’s political career.
We have now heard back from the Government.
It does not deny that the threats were made (and neither do senior Tory figures like Dominic Raab). But it has assured us that the threats won’t happen again. Their response says unequivocally that “in any decision of the Government in relation to the Towns Fund or the Levelling Up Fund, the voting record of any Member of Parliament linked to any particular area will not be taken into account” and that it will “form no part of the decision‐making processes in respect of either Fund.”
This is significant.
We can’t change the past – but what we now have is a promise for the future. The Government says it will avoid a repetition of conduct that is unlawful – if not criminal. Should MPs, once again, be placed in the impossible position of choosing between their commitments to their constituents and their consciences they should contact us. We will promise – contractually – to keep their names confidential. And we will act again with proper vigour.
We have closed our crowdfunder for the case. With your help, we raised a significant amount of money. The costs we have incurred are very modest and we will meet them from our reserves.
It is impossible to make refunds via CrowdJustice. In the circumstances, we think the fairest thing to do with the net sum raised is allocate it towards our challenge to the Met Police’s failure to investigate parties at No 10 Downing Street.
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In every corner of public life, the Tories are or look to be bending the resources of the state to their own private advantage.
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