Tories have warned Boris Johnson that he may face more rebellions over the cost of living, but concede he has ridden out the partygate scandal.
Several of the ringleaders of a plot to oust Mr Johnson from office earlier this year told The Telegraph they now believe he will not face an imminent leadership challenge, but could face more trouble from his backbenches over the cost of living crisis.
On Thursday, the Metropolitan Police announced it had concluded Operation Hillman, its investigation into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street during the pandemic.
The official end of the investigation means there is no prospect Mr Johnson will receive another fixed penalty notice over partygate, having been handed just one for an event for his birthday in June 2020.
On Thursday Sir Charles Walker, who said in February he would “applaud” the Prime Minister for resigning over the scandal, admitted he had been wrong.
“Four months ago, most people thought he was down and out. I was one of those people. And he just re-wrote the script,” Sir Charles told the BBC.
“I never wanted him to be down and out because I have always had huge personal affection for the Prime Minister. I just thought his position was unrecoverable, and it seems that I was wrong.”
But Sir Roger Gale, who submitted his own letter of no confidence to the 1922 Committee over Dominic Cummings’ controversial trip to Barnard Castle, said several other issues were troubling backbenchers and that Mr Johnson could face more internal opposition.
“If it’s not one thing it’s something else,” he said.
“We just lurch from crisis to crisis. When will the U-turn be on the windfall tax? I am not happy with the idea of tearing up the Withdrawal Agreement and I know there are some others who feel the same. We can’t go on like this.”
Another Tory rebel added: “The Prime Minister is in a far better position than anyone expected him to be at this stage, but he’s not out of the woods yet.”
A senior Conservative who still believes Mr Johnson should resign said they no longer believe it is a likely outcome.
“It looks to me like he’s got off scot-free,” the senior Tory told The Telegraph.
“My view hasn’t changed and I still think he has let people down incredibly badly and is culpable for the local election results.
“But within the party there is no appetite to get rid of him.”
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said Mr Johnson had been harmed by the scandal, but suggested the focus would now shift to civil servants.
“There is no question this has been damaging,” he said.
“It was wrong, [Johnson] has apologised a lot for it and so he should, because they lost control of what was happening in Downing Street.”
He added that civil servants “blurred the line very distinctly about what was work and what was not work”, adding: “They shouldn’t have done it and they have been fined, a large number of them, and that is quite right.”
But despite widespread feeling that the partygate scandal will not bring down Mr Johnson, many Conservative MPs are privately angry with the Prime Minister for the damage it has done to their electoral fortunes ahead of 2024.
“People in marginal seats, and by that I mean less than a 15,000 majority, are in despair, unless they are mad,” said one backbencher who has been publicly critical of Mr Johnson.
“Nobody knows who to replace him with though, so nothing will happen.”
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( Information from telegraph.co.uk was used in this report. To Read More, click here )