Boris Johnson fined for his Downing Street birthday party

JToday’s announcement by the Metropolitan Police that it is imposing at least 30 more fines over the ‘partygate’ scandal, bringing the total to more than 50, will reignite the row over Covid breaches in Downing Street and put the pressure on Boris Johnson.

‘Partygate’ had died out as history in Westminster in recent weeks as the Prime Minister was able to focus on his response to the Ukraine crisis while watching his neighbor Rishi Sunak face days of negative headlines on its financial arrangements.

Scotland Yard’s update will be seized by Mr Johnson’s political opponents who will want to revisit the subject as they try to inflict as much damage as possible on the Prime Minister. The coming days are likely to follow the same pattern as those following the announcement in late March that 20 fines were being issued: there will be intense speculation about who may have received the fines and the inevitable questions about whether Mr Johnson is one of them.

Downing Street has said it will publicly disclose whether Mr Johnson (or Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary) is fined, but everyone will be under no obligation to say if he has been fined fixed.

If Mr Johnson is one of the recipients of the fines, the scandal is likely to explode and reach a whole new level of ferocity as critics renew his calls for his resignation and some Tory MPs question whether he is time to change direction.

If the Prime Minister is not among those fined, Downing Street will simply try to absorb the pressure while insisting he will comment in full once the Met has fully completed its investigation.

It’s hard to predict exactly what will happen next, but today’s Met update is exactly what many Tory MPs will have feared: a drip of bad news that risks eroding confidence in Mr Johnson’s premiership.

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