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A minister has said that an investigation into Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs by the prime minister’s ethics adviser could reach a conclusion in about 10 days.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride MP is talking on ITV’s Peston program about how soon Laurie Magnus will report back on Nadeem Zahawi’s tax matters, saying it would be ‘not unusual’ to reach a conclusion within ten days.
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Mr Stride said: “I can’t draw on a system I’m not fully aware of. But the good news is that we’ll hear from the ethics adviser in about ten days’ time or so, who reports to the prime minister.” will do, then the prime minister will have the facts and will actually be able to take a decision.”
Mr Sunak has ordered an inquiry by his independent adviser on the interests of ministers into whether Mr Zahavi broke ministerial rules over an estimated £4.8 million bill settled with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) while chancellor.
Rishi Sunak had previously suggested at PMQs that it would be “politically expedient” to sack Mr Zahavi, but insisted that “due process” means the inquiry into his tax affairs had been allowed to reach its conclusion. Should be known
The prime minister admitted he had not been given the full picture about the Tory chairman’s financial affairs when he told MPs last week that Mr Zahavi had given a “full” account.
But he insisted on Wednesday that “no issue was raised with me” when he entered Number 10 and gave Mr Zahavi the job of minister without portfolio.
Downing Street was unable to say whether Mr Sunak feared more damaging surprises would emerge about Mr Zahavi’s tax affairs and he refused to comment on the Prime Minister ever paying a tax penalty.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Sunak was challenged over Mr Zahavi’s tax affairs for a second week running by Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, who claimed he was “weak” to sack his party president.
Mr Sunak said: “Of course, it would be politically expedient for me to say that this matter should be resolved by Wednesday afternoon.
“But I believe in due process.”
Since I commented on the matter last week, more information has come into the public domain, including a statement by a minister without portfolio, which is why it is right that we establish the facts.
A week ago, Mr Sunak told MPs that Mr Zahavi had “already fully addressed the matter” – but Downing Street later revealed the prime minister was not aware the Conservative Party chairman had asked HMRC had to pay the fine as part of the settlement.
Mr Sunak said: “Since I commented on the matter last week, more information has come into the public domain, including the statement of a minister without portfolio, which is why it is right that we establish the facts.”
Sir Keir made an indirect reference to Mr Sunak’s billionaire wife, Akshata Murthy, who has non-domicile status, as he suggested the job at Number 10 is “too big” for Mr Sunak.
The Labor leader said: “We all know why the Prime Minister was reluctant to ask his party president questions about family finances and tax evasion.
“But when the whole country is watching what is happening, his failure to sack him shows how weak he is – a prime minister overseeing chaos, overwhelmed at every turn.”
Sir Keir said: “I think anyone watching will think that it is quite clear that anyone who wants to avoid tax cannot be in charge of tax. Yet for some reason the Prime Minister does not want to say this or ask the question.” Can’t bring myself to admit it.
The row raised further questions about Mr Sunak’s own financial affairs, with his press secretary refusing to say whether Mr Sunak has also paid fines to HMRC as he prepares to publish his tax returns in an effort for transparency. does.
“You wouldn’t expect me to get involved in the Prime Minister’s tax matters, they are confidential,” he said, reminding Mr Sunak of the position he had been given in the past to inquire about private healthcare before using it .
She could not rule out more damaging revelations about Mr. Zahavi emerging as a sign of trust levels.
“I don’t think any of us can predict what might happen,” she said.
Business minister Andrew Bowie insisted Mr Sunak would sack his party chairman if he was found to have breached ministerial office, telling the BBC: “If he is found wrong in this report, the prime minister will certainly formally dismiss them.”
But the prime minister’s official spokesman did not give the same assurance, pointing to a recently updated ministerial code to indicate “it is no longer a binary decision”.
Mr Zahavi turned up for work at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) on Wednesday but did not show up at PMQs.
Conservative peer Lord Hayward joined senior Tory MP Caroline Noakes in calling on Mr Zahavi to step aside during the investigation.
Lord Hayward told Sky News: “I think he should consider whether he will be in isolation for the duration of the inquest.”
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defense Committee, said the situation was “a distraction”.
The Tory MP said that now that Mr Sunak has asked Sir Lowry to investigate the matter, “it makes absolute sense to report to the ethics adviser before taking further action”.
He told the BBC: “These are tax matters – well, nobody knows the full picture except Nadim Zahavi and HMRC of course – so let’s let that report get on the ground and then we’ll take things from there.” Will be.”
The dispute has centered on a tax bill over the sale of shares in YouGov, which Mr Zahavi founded, worth an estimated £27 million, to Balshore Investments, an offshore registered company in Gibraltar linked to Mr Zahavi’s family.
Mr Zahavi said HMRC concluded there was a “negligent and not intentional” error in the way the founders’ shares were allocated to his father.
Downing Street later revealed that it was not aware last week that Mr Zahavi had allegedly paid the 30% penalty to HMRC.
Mr Zahavi has insisted he is “confident” he “acted properly the whole time”.
Probe into Zahawi tax affairs ‘expected to take around 10 days’
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