Tory Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi, while Chancellor of the Exchequer during Boris Johnson’s tenure as British prime minister, did not fully honour his tax obligations and agreed to pay a £1-million penalty by way of a £5-million settlement.
This has caused a scandal and there are calls for Zahawi to resign as he is proving an embarrassment to both the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, and his party.
The uncomfortable question is, how can you have had a chancellor who does not pay his taxes when he expects Britons to pay their taxes in a timely fashion?
Sunak has made it clear that at the time he was unaware of this and it occurred when he was not prime minister.
The taxes due concern the polling company, YouGov, which Zahawi co-founded in 2000.
The controversy has proven a headache for Sunak, who has not fired Zahawi but chose to have an independent adviser look into the matter.
“I obviously can’t prejudice the outcome of that, but it is right that we fully investigate this matter and establish all the facts. I believe in proper due process.”
There are now calls to look into Zahawi’s family finances.
Speaking during the UK parliament’s Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQ), Labour Party Leader Sir Kier Starmer asked Sunak: “Does the Prime Minister agree that any politician who seeks to avoid the taxes they owe in this country is not fit to be in charge of taxpayer money?
“Anybody watching would think it’s fairly obvious that someone who seeks to avoid tax can’t also be in charge of tax but the PM can’t bring himself to say that or even acknowledge the question.
“We all know why the Prime Minister was reluctant to ask his party chair questions about family finances and tax avoidance. But his failure to sack him when the whole country can see what’s going on shows how hopelessly weak he is – a Prime Minister overseeing chaos overwhelmed at every turn.”
SUNAK WAS UNAWARE OF ZAHAWI’S TAX PROBLEM
Many Tories agree that Zahawi should step aside while the investigation proceeds.
Sunak appointed him Tory Party chairman in October of last year. At the time he said he was unaware of Zahawi’s tax problem.
While Chancellor, Zahawi paid around £5 million to settle a tax dispute. He explained that he made “a careless but not deliberate error” and that both he and his wife did not benefit from an offshore trust.