PMQ: Sir Keir Starmer attacks ‘desperately weak’ Rishi Sunak for failing to sack Nadhim Zahawi

PMQ: Sir Keir Starmer attacks ‘desperately weak’ Rishi Sunak for failing to sack Nadhim Zahawi
PMQ: Sir Keir Starmer attacks ‘desperately weak’ Rishi Sunak for failing to sack Nadhim Zahawi

Sir Keir Starmer suggested the premiership was “too important” for a “hopelessly weak” Rishi Sunak as he attacked him for failing to sack Nadhim Zahawi.

At PMQs, the Labor leader asked whether “any politician who seeks to avoid the taxes he owes in the country is not fit to be in charge” of UK finances – a reference to Mr Zahawi settling a sum of seven figures with HMRC, including a penalty, while Chancellor.

“We all know why the Prime Minister was reluctant to ask his party chairman questions about family finances and tax avoidance,” said Sir Keir – an apparent dig into the Prime Minister’s own tax affairs. previously under surveillance.

Politics live: Some conservatives say ‘game over’ for Zahawi

“But his failure to fire him when the whole country can see what is happening shows how hopelessly weak he is – a prime minister overseeing the chaos, overwhelmed at every turn.”

Referring to problems with public services, Sir Keir added: “He cannot say when ambulances will go to heart attack victims again. He cannot say when the prison system will once again keep the streets safe. He can’t even deal with tax evaders. in his own office.

“Is he starting to wonder if this job isn’t too important to him?” »

Mr Sunak accused Sir Keir of being a “hypocrite” for seeking to have him sacked his colleague rather than follow due process in the parliamentary inquiry into Mr Zahawi’s tax affairs, which he said Labor had demanded.

The Prime Minister said: “Of course the politically expedient thing to do would be for me to say that this matter had to be resolved by midday on Wednesday.

“But I believe in proper due process.”

Read more:
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Mr Sunak added that he was unaware of Mr Zahawi’s tax investigation when he appointed him to his cabinet in October.

On Sir Keir’s front line, he said: “It’s just political expediency and everyone can see through it.”

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Policy writer Beth Rigby analyzes PMQs.

Questions have swirled around Mr Zahawi’s tax affairs since the summer when allegations emerged that he was being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency and HM Revenue & Customs, charges he called “defamation”.

The issue hit the headlines 10 days ago after The Sun published a story on Sunday claiming he had paid a seven-figure sum to the tax office to settle a dispute over the sale of his YouGov shares.

After a week of saying no more than his taxes “were and are fully up to date and paid in the UK” – and publicly receiving support from Mr Sunak in PMQs last week – Mr Zahawi issued a statement saying he had paid what HMRC said “was due” after he “did not agree on the exact allocation” of the shares.

The Tory president said it was a “reckless and unintentional mistake” and did not confirm whether a penalty had also been imposed. But Sky News understands that as part of the settlement with HMRC – estimated to be around £4.8m – the chairman paid a fine.

Zahawi “100% does not resign”

Mr Sunak has now asked his ethics counselor to investigate whether Mr Zahawi breached the ministerial code, and the probe could extend into his previous tax arrangements and whether he lied to the media.

Speaking after the PMQs, a Downing Street spokesman said Mr Sunak still had full confidence in the senior Tory MP, who will travel to Checkers tomorrow for cabinet meetings.

They would not confirm whether Mr Sunak would sack Mr Zahawi if he was found to have lied, saying they would not enter into speculation.

A source close to the former chancellor told Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby that he is “not 100 per cent quitting”.

In a statement on Monday, following the Prime Minister’s announcement of an investigation into the matter, Mr Zahawi said: “I am satisfied that I have acted correctly throughout and look forward to responding. to any specific questions in a formal setting at Sir Laurie.”

. PMQ Sir Keir Starmer attack Rishi Sunak desperately weak for not have sacked Nadhim Zahawi news politics

. PMQ Sir Keir Starmer attacks desperately weak Rishi Sunak failing sack Nadhim Zahawi

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