The British Conservatives suffer a new downturn with the dismissal of the party leader over tax issues

The British Conservatives suffer a new downturn with the dismissal of the party leader over tax issues

Nadim Al-Zahawi was the head of the Conservative Party and a minister without portfolio.AFP photo

When Sunak stepped down as finance minister in early July last year, then Prime Minister Boris Johnson chose Zahawi, who had spearheaded a successful vaccination policy during the pandemic. This descendant of a wealthy British-Iraqi family forgot to mention one thing: He had agreed a €5.4m settlement with the tax authorities, an amount that included a fine of more than €1m.

These details were not trivial to the politician who would become the head of the fiscal authorities of the fiscal. In his other appointments, too — after Sinak became prime minister, Zahawi became party chairman and minister without portfolio — the 55-year-old governor made no mention of his troubles with tax authorities. According to him, these were “mistakes” that resulted from “careless actions.” The millionaire said there was no intention. It emerged that he had transferred shares of the YouGov polling agency, which he co-founded, to a Gibraltar-based family fund.

Seven times wrong

News of the settlement surfaced a week ago. From that moment on, the call for his resignation was heard. Sunak decided to give his party colleague the benefit of the doubt by conducting an independent investigation. Investigator Sir Leslie Magnus, a former banker who now rules on whether Cabinet members abided by the rules, ruled on Sunday that Al-Zahawi had made seven mistakes. Then Sunak resigned.

Zahawi is also now under pressure to give up his seat in parliament in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Al-Zahawi denounces the role of the press

The outgoing minister denounced the role of the press. And so he took the attack head on The Independent. “The noose is tightened,” the progressive newspaper reported. Sunak tries to restore the image of the governors as trusted and reliable officials, but it doesn’t really work. Earlier this week, Johnson also appeared in the news again over a possible conflict of interest in the appointment of a BBC executive, for whom it turns out he had arranged a loan.

It is reminiscent of the 1990s when John Major’s Conservative Party was constantly faced with scandals of a financial and sexual nature, which led to Tony Blair’s rise to power in 1997 with New Labour.

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