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Gavin Williamson tied new school funding to party vote, says Tory defector | Communal room

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Christian Wakeford has accused former education secretary Gavin Williamson of threatening to withdraw funding from a school if he votes for a motion criticizing the government over free school meals.

After crossing the floor to join Labor on Wednesday, the MP for Bury South alleged party whips told him he would lose funding for a new high school in his constituency if he did not vote with the government . At the time, he did not say who was responsible.

Wakeford later identified Williamson, a former chief whip, in an interview with The Sunday Times. Recalling the alleged confrontation, he said Williamson dragged him out of the Commons dining room and told him: ‘It’s not very useful to support an opposition [motion] against the department where you want an extremely important favor from said department, so think about what you are doing.

Wakeford added: “I know the maxim is ‘once a whip, always a whip’, but yeah that one was Gavin.”

The incident reportedly happened in October 2020, when MPs were planning to vote on a plan to extend free school meals during school holidays, a campaign originally led by England footballer Marcus Rashford.

Wakeford ultimately abstained following the alleged conversation with Williamson. The following February the Department for Education approved plans for a new school in the Wakeford constituency, one of four new free schools in Greater Manchester.

In response, Williamson told the newspaper he had no recollection of such a conversation with Mr Wakeford. “I have no recollection of the conversation as described, but what I do remember is working tirelessly with Christian and others to be able to deliver this school, which I did,” he said.

“Such major investment decisions are made after careful analysis of the benefits the investment will bring and certainly not something that can be decided in a brief conversation like the one described.”

The claim comes as William Wragg, the senior Tory who first raised concerns over bullying tactics used by whips against MPs calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation, is set to meet police to discuss of the question.

Gavin Williamson tied new school funding to party vote, says Tory defector | Communal room

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