London When Rishi Sunak moved to 10 Downing Street as British Prime Minister in October 2022, he promised a government of “integrity, professionalism and accountability at all levels”. It was the culmination of many scandals by his predecessor, Boris Johnson. Three months later, Sunak and his cabinet were once again embroiled in affairs that raised serious doubts in London about the Prime Minister’s leadership.
This time the leader of the Conservative Party Nadeem Zahavi is in Philly. The 55-year-old was targeted by tax inspectors from his own ministry during his short tenure as finance minister last summer. The reason: Zahavi was not properly taxed on the profits from the sale of his shares in the opinion research firm he co-founded, YouGov. Both parties agreed to pay additional taxes and fines of around five million pounds (equivalent to around 5.7 million euros).
It must already be a bitter blow to many Britons that a Chancellor of the Exchequer is trying to avoid taxes in Gibraltar with the help of a family trust. However, the fact that Zahavi was appointed as party leader by Sunak and is still on the cabinet table complicates the unpleasant matter for the prime minister. During Parliamentary Question Time on Wednesday, Sunak said he had no knowledge of his party friend’s tax sins.
However, there are “questions to be answered”. So the head of government ordered an inquiry by his ethics adviser, Sir Larry Magnus, to “get to the bottom of the matter”. Until then, Sunak made it clear in the lower house that he would not fire Zahavi.
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Prominent Tories such as former party leader William Hague disagree and are calling on the Prime Minister to make a quick decision. Not making matters better was the fact that Sunak had to justify the special tax status of his wife Akshata Murthy, who lives in India, a few months ago.
>> Read here: Britain is a kingdom without a future plan – an opinion
For Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer, the new issue is a steep template: “Does the Prime Minister believe that someone who tries to avoid taxes cannot at the same time be responsible for the country’s taxes?” Starmer wanted to know from Sunak. . The Labor leader described the Prime Minister’s refusal to respond as a sign of leadership weakness.
This is where Starmer hits a sore point, as this is not the first time the Prime Minister has hesitated to hold fellow party members accountable for their misconduct. Sunak appointed controversial home secretary Suella Braverman to his cabinet, although the Tory politician resigned shortly after revealing classified documents. Despite massive accusations from staff that he was a “bully”, he left his deputy, Dominic Raab, unscathed.
Sunak’s inability to be as strong a leader as he would like is also related to his political weakness. Although the Tories have 67 seats in the House of Commons, the party is divided on many issues. Sunak recently had to give in to demands from about 50 faction members who wanted the new cyber security law significantly tougher. The Prime Minister bowed to the will of Tory rebels in a row over bond targets for house and apartment buildings and dropped her opposition to new offshore wind turbines.
He helped BBC boss Boris Johnson get a private loan
For the opposition, these are all signs of the weakness of the Conservative Party, which has been in power for 13 years, but Labor has more than 20 percentage points in opinion polls. Even conservative voices such as The Spectator magazine have compared the fall of the corrupt and embattled Tories to the final days of former prime minister John Major’s government before Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997.
>> Read here: Great Britain in a dilemma: Inflation slows, but the fight for higher wages intensifies
The sins of his predecessors ensure that Sunak cannot escape the scandalous image of his party. As recently revealed, former Prime Minister Johnson arranged an £800,000 private loan with the help of today’s BBC chairman Richard Sharpe. Not long after, Johnson nominated the former Goldman Sachs banker to a top job at the BBC.
Further: Online security breaches – London threatens tech bosses with prison terms
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