UK Prime Minister Sunak refuses to sack Zahawi

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rejected a call to Conservative Party Speaker Nadim Zahawy. He will be removed from his post as an ethics investigation into his tax affairs continues.

Sunak ordered an investigation on January 23, following an opposition call to resign from Mr Zahawi, who had paid a fine to HM Revenue and Customs to settle a multi-million pound tax dispute.

Sunak, who spoke during a cabinet absence at the prime minister’s country residence, Checkers, on Thursday, remained “awaiting the results” of an investigation into whether the former prime minister had violated the ministerial law.

Epoch Times photo
Former Prime Minister Nadim Zahawi leaves the Conservative Party headquarters in Westminster, central London, on January 23, 2023. (James Manning/PA Media)

He told the station: “I’m not going to pre-judge the outcome of the investigation. It’s important that independent advisors be able to do their job. That’s what he’s doing now.” , is what I asked him to do, and we await the results of the investigation.”

Snack insisted that “no issues were raised” when he appointed Zahawi to his current position, stressing that he had ordered an investigation “because new information has come to light over the past week.”

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister still had confidence in the Tory chairman, but suggested an inquiry would be conducted as soon as possible and Sunak “expects” Zahawi’s participation.

The PA news agency later said, citing a source close to Zahawi, that he had given HMRC permission to speak about his tax investigation.

‘Inadvertent and unintentional’

Zahawi, who is sitting in the Snack cabinet, said he used Gibraltar-registered offshore company Balshore Investments to hold a stake in the polling firm YouGov, which he co-founded, to evade taxes. It has come under pressure since the media made the allegations.

The former prime minister admitted on 21 January that he had paid a penalty to HMRC to settle the dispute, but his tax errors were “negligent and unintentional” and were “consistent and unintentional”. “I acted appropriately,” he said.

Sunak said on January 23 that it had asked its new ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, to assess whether Zahawi had violated the ministerial order.

But the prime minister said Mr Zahawi’s position was “unsupportable” by Labor but would remain in his post pending the investigation.

Sunak had previously defended Zahawi against the tax allegations, and when questioned by the Prime Minister on 18 January, Zahawi said, “We have already fully addressed this issue and there is nothing I can add.” Stated.

But Downing Street suggested on January 23 that Sunak was unaware last week that Zahawi had paid the penalty.

“No penalties for innocent errors”

Calls for Zahawy’s resignation grew after HMRC chief Jim Hara said there would be “no penalty for innocent tax errors”.

Appearing before the House of Commons Treasurer’s Committee on Thursday, Halla explained: responsible for penalties.

“But if your mistake is the result of carelessness, the law says penalties may apply in such circumstances.”

Senior Conservative MP Jake Berry said it was “unsustainable” for Mr Zahawi to remain in power and argued he had to step down during the investigation so the public could trust the process. bottom.

The former minister, who was Zahawi’s direct predecessor as Conservative Party chairman, told BBC Question Time on Thursday evening: And, if it is appropriate, to return to government. ”

“From a great man like Nadim, I think it is the right thing to do now. I got

“hopelessly weak”

For the second week in a row, Sunak was challenged by Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer at the prime minister’s question in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Mr Sturmer said: But his failure to dismiss him when the whole country could have known what was going on shows that he is hopelessly weak. prime minister.

However, Sunak insisted it was following due process.

“Of course it would be more politically convenient for me to say that this matter must be resolved by noon on Wednesday. But I believe in due process,” he said. rice field.

PA Media contributed to this report.