UK PM Sunak fires Tory party chair Zahawi over tax

Nadhim Zahawi

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fired the UK Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi from the UK government on Sunday after Sunak said an investigation into Zahawi’s tax affairs found a “serious breach of the Ministerial Code.”

Sunak had ordered independent adviser Laurie Magnus to investigate questions over the tax affairs of Zahawi, who was also briefly UK finance minister during a period of political turmoil in Westminster in mid-2022.

Zahawi had said that UK tax authorities ruled he had been “careless” with his declarations but had not deliberately made an error to pay less tax.

“Following the completion of the Independent Adviser’s investigation – the findings of which he has shared with us both – it is clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code,” Sunak said in a letter to Zahawi.

“As a result, I have informed you of my decision to remove you from your position in His Majesty’s Government.”

Magnus found that Zahawi had been misleading when he said that reports last July over his tax affairs were “clearly smears.”

Last week, Zahawi finally said he had reached a settlement with the UK tax authorities.

Magnus said in a letter to Sunak: “I consider that this delay in correcting an untrue public statement is inconsistent with the requirement for openness.”

He added that Zahawi had shown “insufficient regard” for the requirement “to be honest, open and an exemplary leader through his own behaviour.”

Magnus said: “Mr. Zahawi’s conduct as a Minister has fallen below the high standards that, as Prime Minister, you rightly expect from those who serve in your government.”