Rishi Sunak told ‘not firing Nadhim Zahawi shows how weak he is’ at PMQs

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Ishi Sunak faced a barrage of questions about Nadhim Zahawi’s tax dispute from Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer during the prime minister’s questions. “being overwhelmed at every turn”.

Sunak replied that he was sticking to his principles and awaiting the findings of an investigation he had commissioned by his ethics adviser. He said no “no issues have been raised with me” during Mr Zahawi’s appointment as Conservative party chairman.

Despite the prime minister’s spokesman saying last week that Mr Zahawi had already fully dealt with the matter, earlier this week Mr Sunak admitted there are “questions that need to be answered” and ordered an investigation by his ethics adviser.

David Gauke, the former justice minister, was previously the last senior Conservative figure to call for Zahawi to resign.

He told UKTN Radio 4’s Today program that if he were the Prime Minister he would be “very tempted” to encourage him to resign.

On Tuesday night, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve told Newsnight: “If I were prime minister, I would bring Nadhim Zahawi in and tell him, please explain exactly what happened. Because it doesn’t need any research. You have to tell me what it is.

“And unless Nadhim Zahawi can prove that there has been an unfortunate error in this case that renders him completely innocent, it seems to me that it would be proper practice for him to resign.”

But a Tory source this morning said of Mr Zahawi: “He’s not resigning.”

Live updates

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SNP: Zahawi tax affair ‘issue of prime minister’s integrity and accountability’

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said the issue of Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs “is now a matter of the Prime Minister’s own integrity and responsibility”.

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He said: “May I ask the Prime Minister what advice he would have for individuals wanting to protect their personal finances? Should they find a future chairman of the UKTN to help secure an £800,000 loan?

“Should they set up a trust in Gibraltar and hope HMRC just doesn’t notice? Or should they do as others have done and just apply for non-dom status?”

Rishi Sunak replied: “I am proud of this government’s track record of supporting the most vulnerable in our society. This winter alone we are helping all families: £900 from their utility bills, raising the national living wage to record levels and making sure our retirees get the support they need, that’s what this government is doing to ensure financial security in this country.”

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Starmer: Sunak ‘hopelessly weak’ by not firing Zahawi

Sir Keir accuses Rishi Sunak of being too weak to fire Nadhim Zahawi.

Sir Keir says: “That he hasn’t sacked him when the whole country can see what’s going on shows how hopelessly weak he is. A prime minister overseeing the chaos, overwhelmed at every step.

“He can’t say when the ambulances will be back with the heart attack victims. He cannot say when the prison system will keep the streets safe again. He can’t even deal with tax evaders in his own cabinet. Is he starting to wonder if this job is just too big for him?”

Sunak responds: “The difference between him and me is that I stick to my values ​​and principles, even when the going gets tough.

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“When I fundamentally disagreed with the previous prime minister, I resigned from the government.

“But for four long years he sat next to Islington North member (Jeremy Corbyn) – when anti-Semitism was rife, when his predecessor sided with our opponents.

“That’s the weak point, Mr. Speaker. He has no principles and only petty politics.”

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Sunak: Labor is playing “political opportunism” with Zahawi tax probe

Sir Keir accuses the prime minister of dodging the question.

He says last week the prime minister told MPs that Zahawi had fully addressed his tax affairs but now says there are questions that need to be answered.

He asks, “What has changed?”

Mr. Sunak replies that more information has come into the public domain since last week and that he believes in “due process of law”, which is why he has appointed the ethics adviser to investigate.

He accuses the opposition of “simple political opportunism” and says “anyone can see through it”.

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Sunak: I can’t prejudge the investigation into the Zahawi controversy

Apparently referring to the Nadhim Zahawi quarrel, Sir Keir asks Mr Sunak: “Does the Prime Minister agree that a politician who is trying to evade the taxes he owes in this country is not fit to be in charge? have about taxpayers’ money?”

Mr. Zahawi is notably absent from PMQs.

The prime minister replies: “The issues in question arose before I was prime minister. With regard to the appointment of [Zahawi], the usual nomination process was followed. No issues were raised with me when he was appointed to his current position.

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“And since I responded to this matter last week, more information has emerged. And that’s why I’ve asked UKTN consultant to look into the matter.

“Of course I can’t anticipate the outcome of that.”

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Starmer asks if the government has blood on its hands due to failed parole

Labor’s Sir Keir says there are “systemic problems” in probation services, which are a ministerial responsibility.

Mr Sunak replied that steps are being taken to implement new processes to recall offenders. He says this is already making a difference.

Sir Keir says probation services are failing all over the country. “It is yet another vital public service on its knees after thirteen years of Tory government.”

He says he has spoken to Ms Aleenah’s family, who say the government has “blood on their hands”.

Mr. Sunak replies, “We want to increase the safety of women and girls, we need harsh punishments. And that’s why this government passed the Police Crime and Sentencing Act [Keir Starmer and Labour] opposite.”

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Keir Starmer pressuring PM over Zara Aleena case

Labour’s first question concerns the case of Zara Aleena, who was brutally attacked and killed in East London. Her killer was allowed to roam the streets after failed probation, a shocking report has revealed.

He asks, “Does the prime minister accept those findings?”

Mr. Sunak replies: “This is truly a terrible crime… the shortcomings were serious and unacceptable.”

He says serious steps are being taken to address those concerns.

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Pictured: Rishi Sunak leaves No10 for PMQs

Rishi Sunak leaves No10 to attend PMQs

/ UKTN via Getty Images

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Sunak welcomes Germany’s decision to send tanks to Ukraine

Away from domestic politics, Rishi Sunak has welcomed Germany’s decision to send its coveted Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has finally given the “green light” to supply Ukraine with the tanks, after weeks of hesitation and growing impatience among the country’s allies.

Ukraine’s president Volodymr Zelensky had urged Germany to provide the tanks to unleash a “real fist of democracy” to drive Russian troops out of Ukraine.

Sunak said it was “the right decision by NATO allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. In addition to Challenger 2s, they will bolster Ukraine’s defensive firepower.

“Together, we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace.”

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Lib Dems call on Zahawi to resign

The Liberal Democrats have called for Zahawi to be sacked or suspended while the investigation into his tax affairs is ongoing.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “The Conservative Party is mired in an endless cycle of filth and chaos as the country suffers from the cost of living and the NHS crisis.

“What else does it take for Sunak to finally do the right thing and fire Zahawi, or at least suspend him for the duration of this investigation?”

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Pictured: Nadhim Zahawi at Tory party headquarters

Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi is photographed at Conservative Party headquarters in Westminster.

The press has gathered outside his house from dawn as he faces mounting calls to stop.

Getty Images

Nadhim Zahawi leaves Tory party headquarters

/ Getty Images

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