Removing Boris Johnson from Downing Street would lead to “instability and uncertainty” in the country, according to the Conservative Party’s chairman.
The PM has come under increasing pressure from MPs after being fined by the police for attending a party in No 10 during the first lockdown.
Some senior Tories have now joined opposition calls for Mr Johnson to go.
But Oliver Dowden said changing leader right now “would not be in the national interest”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, the party chairman said the UK faced “unparalleled challenges” over national security and energy supplies, and it was right for the prime minister to focus on that.
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the PM’s authority was “shot through”, and the so-called partygate scandal was stopping Parliament discussing issues like the cost of living crisis.
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, also said Mr Johnson now had “no moral authority” to lead after being fined for breaking Covid laws.