UK leader change now would be damaging, party chair Dowden says

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Changing UK leader now would be “seriously damaging to the country,” the chairman of the ruling Conservative Party said as calls continue for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign.

Oliver Dowden told Sky News he expects Johnson to lead the party into the next general election, expected in about two years.

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Johnson will face a parliamentary ethics inquiry into his past comments about rule-breaking parties in Downing Street during the pandemic, as opposition lawmakers accused him of lying over “partygate.”

MPs on Thursday backed a motion from the opposition Labour Party for Johnson to be referred to a panel to investigate whether he misled lawmakers over the events in his and other government offices.

Ministers found to have lied are typically expected to resign, though there’s little chance of the prime minister doing so.

Johnson could make preparations for an early general election in a bid to ease pressure from within his party for a leadership challenge, the Mail on Sunday reported, citing people in government it didn’t identify.

The prospect of a vote as early as 2023 could quieten rebels as it would leave insufficient time for a new leader to bed in before polling day, the newspaper said.

Dowden said he doesn’t believe the premier misled Parliament over the partygate scandal, yet “it was right for the prime minister to apologize.”

Read more: UK Labor Party sets out bid to trigger contempt investigation into PM Johnson

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