Boris Johnson is facing a police inquiry into allegations of electoral fraud following claims the Tories offered senior Brexit Party figures peerages in a bid to persuade them not to run in the general election.
Scotland Yard said it was looking into two allegations after Nigel Farage claimed he and eight other people in his party had been offered a place in the House of Lords.
If the claims are proven, it could leave senior Tories open to charges of unlawful bribery. Mr Johnson has denied that anyone in the Brexit Party was offered a peerage.
The news came as a former lord chancellor wrote to the head of the Metropolitan Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions urging them to investigate what he called the “exceptionally serious allegations”.
Lord Falconer, who held the role under Tony Blair, wrote: “I believe these allegations raise serious questions about the integrity of the upcoming general election, and particularly whether senior individuals at CCHQ [Conservative Campaign Headquarters] or No10 have breached two sections of the Representation of the People Act 1983.”
He continued: “These are exceptionally serious allegations which the DPP must, in accordance with his statutory duty, fully investigate as a matter of urgency.
“In addition, in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes and this election, it is crucial that the Metropolitan Police also examine these accusations.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “The Metropolitan Police Service has received two allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice in relation to the 2019 general election.
“The MPS special enquiry team is responsible for investigating all such criminal allegations. Both allegations are currently being assessed.”
Mr Johnson has admitted there have been “conversations” between senior Tories and the Brexit Party but denied that peerages were offered, and said it was “just not the way we operate”.
He also dismissed allegations made by former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, now a Brexit Party candidate, who said she was offered a role in the next phase of Brexit talks if she stood aside.
Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I haven’t spoken to Ann and I don’t know anyone who’s spoken to Ann for months now. I can’t imagine for a second that this is true. I think the prime minister has been very clear that we’re not engaging in pacts or negotiations.
“The decision by the Brexit Party to stand down was, I understand it, a unilateral decision that was taken because the leadership of the Brexit Party recognised that if they stood in a range of seats, they would imperil the chance of a Conservative majority government.