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”.
Villain origin story
Meanwhile, footage has emerged of Zahawi moaning about getting a parking ticket in 2004 when he was a Wandsworth councillor and the chief executive of pollster YouGov.
He received a £100 fixed-penalty notice on his crashed scooter while he was being loaded into an ambulance with a broken leg.
ITN did a report about the incident and interviewed him about the incident from his hospital bed.
“It was so blatantly obvious,” he said speaking about the crash. “There is no way the traffic warden could have missed an ambulance, a police van, a bike that’s smashed and eyewitnesses standing there.
“What was she thinking of?” he added.
“It is impossible for her not to make the connection. They seem to sort of probably work on the law of averages that the more they issue the more they’ll get paid and if there’s a few that go astray or there’s a few that are issued wrongly they can just say ‘sorry’ and move on.”
People are calling it his “villain origin story”, with a ‘Bane edit’ already released!
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