TORY chiefs have been accused of “blinking” in a bitter stand off with Boris Johnson for not daring to formally discipline him.

Conservative HQ had received “dozens” of complaints about the former Foreign Secretary’s controversial remarks about burkas, sources have revealed

But no decision had been taken to begin a formal investigation, 72 hours on – prompting Boris’s allies to accuse the party of ducking out of the power confrontation.

One ally of the mop haired senior Tory dubbed PM Theresa May and chairman Brandon Lewis as being “in a pickle”.

The close ally added: “They’ve picked a fight with Boris but they don’t want to finish it, in case he is found innocent and wins”.

Fury with Boris deepened as he still refused Mr Lewis’s demand to apologise for calling women who wear the strict Islamic dress “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

Tory peer and founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum Lord Sheikh insisted Mrs May suspend him as an MP by stripping him of the Conservative whip, dubbing the remarks “to a certain extent racist”.

As a series of Cabinet ministers came out to side with the PM and Mr Lewis, Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson also piled the pressure on Boris to say sorry, dubbing his remarks “gratuitously offensive”.

Former Tory chairman Baroness Warsi accused him of making “hate crime more likely” with an indefensible “dog-whistle”.

But Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright sparked his own controversy by claiming it was wrong for Boris to even call the burka “oppressive” – a view publicly held by many mainstream politicians across the party divides.

Boris himself is now abroad on a family summer holiday, and said by one ally who spoke to him to be “untroubled” by the furore.

Other allies of the former London mayor accused No10 of trying to sabotage any future leadership bid by the apology demand.

Supporter Nadine Dorries MP said: “People in Westminster are terrified Boris Johnson may make a leadership challenge and those on the Remain side particularly are going to come out and attack him in force over his burka comments”.

A CCHQ source said: “We have to follow our formal process when complaints come in, and that takes time”.

One exasperated Tory minister told The Sun: “It’s incredibly frustrating that in the very week that Labour are falling to pieces, we in the Conservative Party chose to have a row about this”.

Ex-Tory chairman Lord Pickles accused Boris on an own goal, saying: “By using illiberal language, he’s closed down the debate he wanted to open”.

But the party grandee also said it was “pretty much inconceivable” for Boris to be thrown out of party for it.

A Sky Data poll revealed that the majority of Brits think describing women in burkas as looking like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers” is not racist, by 66% to 33%.

But people are split down the middle over whether Boris should apologise for the remarks - 45% think he should, 48% think he should not.

Taj Hargey, the imam at Oxford Islamic Congregation, who a critic of the burka said Mr Johnson should “not apologise for telling the truth” and did not go far enough.

In a letter to The Times,Dr Hargey said there was “no Koranic legitimacy” for the burka and added it was a “nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam.”