23 JANUARY 2023 | NEWS

The Conservative Party Chairman is under pressure to resign, following backlash over a row about unpaid tax.

Whilst he was Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi paid a penalty to HMRC to the tune of around £5m after an investigation when he was Chancellor under Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has asked his independent ethics adviser to conduct an enquiry into whether the senior politician breached the Ministerial Code. But Zahawi is confident he will be vindicated.

Deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner, asked of Rishi Sunak today: “Why does the Prime Minister need an adviser to tell him this conduct is unethical?”

She said on Friday that the row over Zahawi’s tax affairs made his position as Chairman of the Conservative Party “untenable”. Zahawi’s opposite on the Labour benches, Anneliese Dodds, echoed these sentiments.

Labour’s position is clear that he should be sacked.

In the Commons today, Paymaster General and Cabinet Minister Jeremy Quin was unable to answer questions over whether the Tory MP was telling the truth in the summer when he said he claimed for his taxes, after The Independent reported at the beginning of July last year that he had been the subject of an investigation by the National Crime Agency and HMRC.

A week on from these reports, during which he was still standing in the Conservative Party leadership race after the resignation of Boris Johnson, Mr Zahawi said these allegations were an attempt to tarnish him.

He then declined to comment on whether a story run by The Sun was true, in which it was reported that Zahawi had paid millions in tax and settled a dispute with HMRC.

The row has raised questions amongst those within his own party. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the Party Chairman must give “the absolute facts”, although adding that he does not believe his colleague has been deceitful.

He told the BBC that Zahawi should “get it all out now” and “clear it up”. Another Minister, however, said the MP was “screwed”.

But the Prime Minister himself has come into question over how much of this he already knew.

Sunak has said that there are “questions that need answering”. The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said the Prime Minister was not aware that Zahawi had paid a fine to HMRC when he told MPs in the Commons last week thathis colleague had “addressed the matter in full”.

A Government source reportedly told The Guardian that Downing Street was aware of a fine handed to Zahawi as part of a settlement when Sunak appointed him. However, Number 10 has denied the claim.

William Hallowell
William Hallowell is a Journalism graduate and freelance reporter.


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