DAILY MAIL COMMENT: A brutal sacking but Nadhim Zahawi had to go
The end was brutal in its execution but hardly a surprise. For several days Nadhim Zahawi has been clinging on to his job as Tory party chairman by a thread. Yesterday the thread finally snapped.
In a brief telephone call, Rishi Sunak told him he had breached the ministerial code, failed to meet the standards required of his Government and had to go.
Mr Zahawi can have no real complaints. He obfuscated about his tax affairs and – crucially – failed to tell the Prime Minister that the £5million he paid HMRC in settlement included a seven-figure penalty for lack of full disclosure.
For a backbencher, this would have been deeply embarrassing. For a Cabinet minister who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer while he was being investigated, it was fatal.
In a brief telephone call, Rishi Sunak told Nadhim Zahawi (left) had breached the ministerial code, failed to meet the standards required of his Government and had to go
Zahawi failed to tell the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the £5million he paid HMRC in settlement included a seven-figure penalty for lack of full disclosure
Like many prominent figures caught in the eye of a scandal, Mr Zahawi shamefully tried to blame the Press. But this was a mess entirely of his own making and he should face up to it.
Although the Left was naturally crowing with delight at another high-profile Tory scalp, this is in many ways a tragic tale.
A refugee from Iraq, who came here as a child unable to speak English, Mr Zahawi went on to help create and build the hugely successful polling company YouGov from scratch. He showed exactly the kind of enterprise and work ethic this country needs – and the Conservative Party has always championed.
But Mr Sunak had no option but to sack him. He has founded his premiership on high principles of transparency, integrity and professionalism. Mr Zahawi fell short.
Like many prominent figures caught in the eye of a scandal, Mr Zahawi shamefully tried to blame the Press
The PM initially accepted the party chairman’s denial of impropriety but later set up an ethics inquiry to establish the facts. Six days into that inquiry his mind was made up, hence yesterday’s decisive action.
Labour accuses Mr Sunak of dither for not dismissing him sooner, but most fair-minded people will think he acted properly and honestly throughout.
However, there are much bigger issues in play than Mr Zahawi’s tax status. This has been a painful episode but also a distraction.
Rishi and his ministers must now focus all their attention on what really matters – our stalling economy, failing health and social care service and the war raging in Europe.
Trading with tyranny
Like the swaggering bully he is, Vladimir Putin warns Boris Johnson he could take him out with a missile ‘in a minute’ if he so desired.
It is an insane threat, delivered by a ghastly dictator who grows more deluded by the day. And it’s a credit to Mr Johnson that Putin regards him as such a thorn in the side.
Yet while Mr Johnson stands tall against the aggressor, the Mail has revealed that luxury brands Paul Smith, Agent Provocateur and Rolls-Royce are still doing business with Moscow, despite a furious backlash from MPs and customers.
Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine have shocked and outraged the entire world.
Other companies have severed links. It’s high time these three followed suit. Or are they happy to be associated with a regime that has spread so much death and misery?
As a father, it’s only natural that King Charles hopes for a reconciliation with Prince Harry. As sovereign and head of the Royal Family, however, he must think very carefully before inviting his wayward son to his Coronation.
The prince has caused untold damage to the monarchy and inflicted great pain on the Queen in her final months. If he has any sense of honour, he himself will make clear he doesn’t wish to attend the ceremony. If not, he should be excluded.