London, UK | XINHUA | British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sunday fired chair of the ruling Conservative Party Nadhim Zahawi from the government after an investigation into his tax affairs found “a serious breach” of the ministerial code.
Zahawi, who last year was briefly Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, or finance minister, during a period of political turmoil, had been under increasing pressure to resign in recent weeks amid allegations that he settled a multimillion-dollar unpaid tax bill with the authorities.
“Following the completion of the Independent Adviser’s investigation – the findings of which he has shared with us both – it is clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code,” Sunak said in a letter to Zahawi.
“As a result, I have informed you of my decision to remove you from your position in His Majesty’s Government,” it read.
Zahawi initially called media reports about his tax affairs “smears” but admitted last week to paying a penalty to the authorities as part of the settlement. The Guardian reported an estimated tax bill of about 5 million pounds (6.19 million U.S. dollars). In Britain, penalties are applied if someone fails to pay the correct tax at the right time.
“I consider that this delay in correcting an untrue public statement is inconsistent with the requirement for openness,” Laurie Magnus, the independent adviser, said in a letter to Sunak.
Zahawi had shown “insufficient regard” for the general principles of the ministerial code and the requirements “to be honest, open and an exemplary leader through his own behaviour,” Magnus added. ■