Rishi Sunak still faces questions about his own knowledge of Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs, after he moved to sack the Tory chairman.
The Prime Minister fired the Conservative Party chairman early on Sunday morning, shortly after an ethics inquiry into Mr Zahawi found that he had committed a “serious breach” in the handling of his tax affairs.
The PM’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Sir Laurie Magnus, rapidly concluded his investigation after serious questions emerged for the former chancellor, whose multimillion-pound settlement with HM Revenue & Customs included paying a penalty.
Supporters of Sunak welcomed the decision to sack Mr Zahawi, as well as his decision to allow “due process” to take effect.
But allies of Mr Zahawi claimed that the MP had lost his job after being given only limited time to make his case, with the Telegraph citing claims suggesting he was only given a 30-minute meeting with the independent adviser to defend himself.
The Stratford-on-Avon MP did not comment explicitly on the row in his letter to the Prime Minister following his sacking, instead taking aim at the media as he complained “about the conduct from some of the fourth estate in recent weeks”.
For Mr Sunak, who came to office promising “integrity”, the row continues to raise questions.
Both Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner and party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds have written to Mr Sunak to ask him what he knew about the investigation into Mr Zahawi’s tax affairs and when.
Urging the Prime Minister to “come clean”, Ms Rayner said that the “hopelessly weak Prime Minister has been dragged kicking and screaming into doing what he should have done long ago”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has tipped Boris Johnson to become the next Chairman of the Tory party – but doubts if Rishi Sunak will offer him the job.
Speaking to GB News, he said: “I think it was a mistake to remove Boris Johnson, who was an excellent leader of the Conservative Party, and is the biggest figure in British political life, even out of office.
“He’s extraordinarily popular, people stop their cars to get out and talk to him and stop their vans and so on, which they don’t generally do for politicians.
“But I think it’s very difficult to bring back Boris Johnson in a subordinate role because he’s such a big figure that he would dominate any Cabinet. But he has all the right attributes for a party chairman.
“He is charismatic, he rallies the troops. He’s a sort of fully-loaded Conservative. So I think that type of personality would be a very good one for a party chairman.”
Lee Anderson – commonly known as ’30p Lee’ – is also favoured by some party members to take the job.
Marco Longhi said the MP for Ashfield – who recently challenged a political activist to a boxing match – would be the perfect fit.
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