British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak dismisses Nadhim Zahawi as head of the Conservative Party due to a tax controversy.
Following days of criticism over his personal tax arrangements, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave in on Sunday and fired Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi for a “severe breach” of the Ministerial Code.
After allegations that Zahawi had paid a penalty as part of a rumored £4.8 million ($5.96 million) settlement with tax officials, Sunak last week instructed his ethics counsel to look into the matter. Zahawi was accused of failing to disclose the conflict with the tax authorities.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson appointed Zahawi as chancellor of the exchequer, or finance minister, in July of last year. He remained in the Government under Liz Truss, who succeeded Johnson, and Sunak, who appointed him party chairman.
After the investigation was finished, Sunak wrote to Zahawi that “it is apparent that there has been a major infraction of the Ministerial Code.” I’ve notified you of my decision to have you removed from your job in His Majesty’s Government as a result. The Ministerial Code of the UK outlines the norms of behavior expected of ministers and how they carry out their responsibilities.
British citizens, many of whom are struggling to survive during the cost-of-living crisis, were astonished to hear of Zahawi’s multi-million pound settlement with tax inspectors.
Sunak, who took office promising “purity, professionalism, and accountability at every level,” according to the opposition Labour Party, should have fired Zahawi when the allegations were first made public this month rather than attempting to buy time by opening an investigation.
According to senior Labour MP Bridget Phillipson, the incident revealed Sunak to be a “weak” leader.
The Conservative party, she claimed, “just reeks of slime.”
The tax arrangements of Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty, the daughter of an Indian billionaire, have also drawn attention to Sunak himself. The Sunday Times Rich List of the UK’s 250 wealthiest individuals featured Sunak and Murty last year; the publication assessed their combined net worth at £730 million ($826 million).
The fact that Murty held “non-domicile” status in the UK, which allowed her to lawfully avoid paying UK taxes on her income earned abroad from her family’s Infosys business group, came to light last year.
He expressed regret last week for getting his second police ticket for neglecting to buckle up while driving. Johnson and Sunak received fines from the police while he was chancellor for attending lockdown-breaking parties conducted on UK government property.
In a statement responding to his dismissal that was released on Sunday, Zahawi said that serving in various UK governments had been a privilege in his life. He didn’t specifically mention the results of the ethical investigation into his tax troubles.
“I didn’t speak English when I came to this nation seeking safety from persecution. I established a prosperous business and held some of the top positions in government while living here. I firmly feel that my story could not have happened in any other nation on earth,” the statement said.
Born to Kurdish parents in Iraq, Zahawi moved to the UK as a young child when his family fled Saddam Hussein’s rule. He is regarded as one of the wealthiest members of the House of Commons and was a founding partner of YouGov.