Oliver Dowden (Photo: Sky News)
Boris Johnson has “more fuel in the tank” and changing leader now would be “damaging” to the country, the chairman of the Conservative Party has said.
The prime minister is under renewed pressure over the partygate scandal after he was forced to allow a fresh inquiry into whether he misled parliament.
A YouGov poll has suggested the majority of the public believe Johnson lied about Downing Street parties.
One former cabinet minister told HuffPost UK: “A lot of people feel trapped in a nightmare that doesn’t end and they don’t see how it can.”
But Speaking to Sky News on Sunday morning, Oliver Dowden said he did not think a no confidence vote in Johnson by Tory MPs was inevitable.
“Talking to the prime minister, he’s got plenty more fuel in the tank. He’s got real energy and determination to continue to serve this country and deal with some of the big challenges we face,” he said.
“I think the uncertainty that would be caused by a change of leader would be dearly damaging to this country.”
The Tory chairman added: “I do think he will lead us into the next election.”
Johnson’s next test are the local elections on May 5, where a poor showing could be the trigger for more Conservative MPs to call for him to resign.
The PM has been warned by a former Tory minister that his party will “reap the whirlwind” of the lockdown parties saga at the ballot box as the threat of more police fines hangs over him.
Steve Baker told The Daily Telegraph his constituents were expressing “fury” at reports of lockdown breaches.
The influential backbencher turned on the Johnson in the Commons during the week, telling MPs the PM should have realised the “gig’s up” after the Met concluded he had breached his own coronavirus rules.
On Friday evening No 10 responded to ITV’s report that new fine notices had started landing in the email inboxes of officials by saying the PM had not received a notice in relation to the gathering.
Downing Street has stated it will still declare whether the prime minister receives further fines in the lead up to polling day.
According to The Guardian, allies of former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and trade minister Penny Mordaunt had been making “discrete preparations” for a leadership contest.
Facing questions about the alleged parties during his final day in India on Friday, the PM suggested his administration had received a “pretty good kick”.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.