BORIS Johnson was last night branded a “lucky general” after he avoided any further Partygate fines.
Cops called time on their probe yesterday and revealed they issued 126 penalties to ministers and aides.
A staggering 83 people were stung — making Whitehall the country’s most fined workplace.
As the news swept through Westminster, several Tory rebels laid down their weapons and declared Mr Johnson was now safe in No10.
At least one MP is understood to have withdrawn their letter of no confidence in the PM.
Meanwhile, former critic Sir Charles Walker compared “extra-ordinary” Mr Johnson to a written-off cricket star who defies his critics to “smash 100”.
But others warned the PM is not out of the woods yet as he is set to get roasted by Whitehall sleaze-buster Sue Gray in her long-awaited report next week.
Mr Johnson did not comment on the end of the probe, although he is expected to issue a grovelling apology to Parliament next week.
The PM’s spokesman said: “He is focused on issues that affect the public. This morning he was speaking to [Ukraine] President Zelensky, this afternoon he will hold meetings on the global cost-of-living challenge.”
Costing nearly half a million pounds, the Met Police Partygate inquiry saw 12 coppers spend four months combing through hundreds of photos, diary entries and witness statements.
They issued 126 fines to Whitehall insiders for booze-fuelled lockdown-breaking bashes across eight dates during the pandemic.
The PM, Carrie and Chancellor were all stung for the infamous birthday party where Mr Johnson was “ambushed by cake”.
After months of open warfare in his party and plots to oust him from the top job, the PM appears safe as he escaped a second fine, potentially a final nail in the coffin.
Sir Keir Starmer repeated his call for him to quit over “industrial scale law-breaking” in No10.
But facing his own probe for allegations he broke lockdown with Currygate, he fell short of ordering a full onslaught on the PM.
Kit Malthouse, Cabinet Minister for Policing, said: “I’m pleased that it’s done, thankful to the police for conducting themselves efficiently.
“The PM has apologised for the cake incident, and I hope now we can now move on to the really pressing issues.”
It is believed Mr Johnson avoided getting multiple fines because Downing Street is both his workplace and his home.
Tory rebels last night admitted he looks safer in his job than he has for months.
HE’S NOT SAFE YET
By Kate Ferguson
SO is Boris safe? Not quite. His Tory critics still circle.
And next week we could see the publication of the long-awaited Sue Gray report.
The Whitehall sleazebuster is expected to say there was a rule-breaking culture in Downing Street with officials thinking lockdown rules did not apply to them.
The Tories are also predicted to suffer in two key by-elections next month — at Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton. If Boris loses both then his party may decide he is no longer their golden boy.
The cost-of-living crisis is another which could see his Premiership hit the buffers.
If he survives until summer, chances are he will still be leader at the next election.
But he won’t be getting the champagne out just yet.
Sir Charles said: “Love him or loathe him, Boris Johnson is an extraordinary politician. Four months ago, most people thought he was down and out — I was one of those people — and he rewrote the script.
“He is a bit like that all-rounder who has been written off time and time again and then grabs the bowling ball and takes five for 15 or smashes 100 or does both things in the same match.”
Another Tory said: “He is a very lucky general.”
Admitting defeat, he added: “It seems I was wrong. The Prime Minister is going to continue in No10 now.
“Strangely, it could be that the Leader of the Opposition now faces calls to consider his position.”
Another Tory MP slammed police for wasting time and money to work out if the PM spent ten minutes in a room with a slice of cake he did not eat.
They added: “It has been a total waste of time and a total distraction. I think we are all glad the line has been drawn under the matter. Police should now come out and say, they will not issue any more fines for retrospective Covid breaches — and that includes Durham looking into Sir Keir Starmer. We have to move on.”
Other Tory rebels said the decision has “bought Boris time” – but a coup is still possible if he loses next month’s by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton.
One said: “A lot of people feel he has survived it. But there is still rage bubbling beneath the surface in the party.”
Meanwhile, some Tory MPs are worried the PM has become “toxic” with voters and is a “drag” on the party. Conservative Campaign HQ polling given to some politicians show Mr Johnson is rating well below the Tory party with voters.
‘DRAG ON THE PARTY’
One usually loyal MP said: “He is a drag on the party in the polls.
“He needs to prove he can win back trust and is still a winner. I want to see him do something big on the cost-of-living crisis.”
A Savanta ComRes poll found that Labour are now seven points ahead of the Tories.
Sir Keir’s party is on 41 per cent, while the Conservatives are on 34 per cent, the survey found. This is Labour’s best rating since the beginning of April, but would still see them failing to score an outright election majority.
Allies of the PM said he had listened to the anger of Partygate and ordered a reorganisation of his Downing Street team.
Head of the civil service Simon Case wrote to mandarins explaining the overhaul.
Key units in the Cabinet Office are being rolled into the No10 operation to form a dedicated office of the PM.
12 EVENTS IN PROBE SPOTLIGHT
POLICE have confirmed the 126 Partygate fines doled out to Whitehall workers related to eight dates.
There was more than one event on some days, although it was not stated if all resulted in fines.
Here we list the 12 events the police could have probed . . .
May 20, 2020 – ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ do: Leaked email from Boris Johnson’s private secretary Martin Reynolds showed No 10 staff were invited to an event in the Downing Street garden. The PM admitted he was there for 25 minutes to thank staff for their hard work — but went back to work after.
June 18, 2020 – Cabinet Office leaving bash: Gathering in 70 Whitehall to say goodbye to a No10 private secretary.
June 19, 2020 – Boris Johnson birthday party: The PM, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all slapped with a fine after they gathered in the Cabinet Room before a meeting. It was a surprise get-together for Mr Johnson’s birthday — just weeks after he nearly died from Covid.
Downing Street officials have admitted staff “gathered briefly” in the Cabinet Room.
November 13, 2020 – ABBA party and leaving drinks: PM’S wife Carrie Johnson was said to have hosted pals in the flat above No11 where she lives, with music heard playing.
Separately, drinks were held and the Prime Minister gave a speech for his former communications chief when he left No10. Fines were issued for events on this day — but it was not revealed to which event they were linked.
December 17, 2020 – Simon Case festive quiz: Cabinet Secretary Simon Case took himself off the Whitehall party probe — and was replaced by Sue Gray — after his team were revealed to have hosted a Christmas quiz gathering.
It was organised by a private secretary. Mr Case played no part but “walked through the team’s office on the way to his own”.
December 17, 2020 – leaving drinks for two officials: Two events were held for officials leaving their jobs, from the Covid Taskforce and from Downing Street, despite Tier 3 rules coming into place which banned all such gatherings.
Kate Josephs, former director-general of the Government’s Covid Taskforce, said she was “truly sorry” over leaving drinks held in the Cabinet Office.
December 18, 2020 – Christmas do at No10: Officials and advisers shared cheese and wine and even exchanged Secret Santa gifts.
The PM’s former spokesperson, Allegra Stratton resigned after a video emerged which featured her joking about the celebration to staff at a press conference rehearsal in Downing Street’s swish new Press briefing room.
January 14, 2021 – yet more No10 leaving drinks: A departure of two private secretaries prompted another round of drinks — despite the country being under strict lockdown rules again.
April 16, 2021 – another two leaving dos: The night before the Queen was pictured sitting alone at Prince Philip’s funeral, two leaving dos were held — one for a Government photographer and one for the PM’s Comms chief.
But the Met has not said which ones saw fines and which did not. Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace after details of the boozy events came out.
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