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Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard in Commons bribe row

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SHROPSHIRE MP Mark Pritchard today claimed that Prime Minister David Cameron offered him a job in a bid to get him to abandon a debate over banning wild animals in circuses. SHROPSHIRE MP Mark Pritchard today claimed that Prime Minister David Cameron offered him a job in a bid to get him to abandon a debate over banning wild animals in circuses. The Wrekin MP said he was offered "incentive and reward" by government whips if he backed down – and claimed when that attempt failed, he was "threatened" by Downing Street. It comes after MPs agreed to a ban in the Commons last night, following a motion put forward by the Shropshire MP. A Downing Street source played down the claims and said the backbencher had given an "overblown" account of what had happened.

SHROPSHIRE MP Mark Pritchard today claimed that Prime Minister David Cameron offered him a job in a bid to get him to abandon a debate over banning wild animals in circuses.

The Wrekin MP said he was offered "incentive and reward" by government whips if he backed down – and claimed when that attempt failed, he was "threatened" by Downing Street.

It comes after MPs agreed to a ban in the Commons last night, following a motion put forward by the Shropshire MP.

A Downing Street source played down the claims and said the backbencher had given an "overblown" account of what had happened.

But Mr Pritchard said he would not be "bought off".

It is believed he was offered a non-ministerial role at the Foreign Office.

In an open show of defiance last night, he said he would not be "bullied" and told of his row with the whips and Downing Street to the Commons.

In extraordinary scenes, he told MPs: "I was offered incentive and reward on Monday, then it was ratcheted up last night when I was threatened.

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"I had a call from the Prime Minister's office directly, and I was told unless I withdraw this motion, that the Prime Minister himself said that he would look upon it very dimly indeed."

"Well, I have a message for the whips and for the Prime Minister.

"I may just be a little council house lad from a very poor background, but that background gives me a backbone, it gives me a thick skin, and I am not going to be kowtowed by the whips or even the Prime Minister of my country on an issue I feel passionately about, that I have conviction about.

"We need a generation of politicians with a bit of spine – not jelly.

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"This is an issue that I have campaigned on for many years.

"I will not kowtow to that sort of unnecessary, disproportionate pressure."

MPs agreed to a ban in the use of wild animals in circuses.

Mr Pritchard's motion was passed by the Commons without a vote, and while not legally binding, in-creases pressure on the Government to act.

By London Reporter Sunita Patel

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