Tory minister stopped in her tracks after Kay Burley delivers one brutal sentence

Tory minister stopped in her tracks after Kay Burley delivers one brutal sentence
Rishi Sunak claims he ‘acted decisively' over Nadhim Zahawi tax row

A Tory minister was left licking her wounds after Kay Burley expertly shut her down in an interview about Nadhim Zahawi.

Helen Whately was the latest MP to be dragged out to defend the government to the media this morning, after prime minister Rishi Sunak sacked Zahawi over his tax scandal on Sunday.

But she probably wished she has stayed in bed when she arrived at the Sky News studio and had a very tense exchange with Burley.

The presenter put it to Whateley that Sunak should have acted sooner, and said people were aware of Zahawi's dodgy tax affairs.

She questioned why civil servants didn't inform Sunak of the issue and after Whateley defended Sunak, Burley asked her to respond to the Lib Dems call for Zahawi to lose the Tory whip.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

"He's been fired from government. This is a very serious consequence because he didn't comply with the ministerial code but he was still elected to be a member of parliament," she said.

She added: "We can talk about this but I will just say that I've come here to talk about something that I know that people really care about which is about the NHS..."

Speaking over her, Burley replied: "We will come to that, I'll do the interview, you answer the questions."


It comes after Zahawi was sacked as chairman of the party following an investigation by the prime minister's new ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, which concluded that Zahawi had broken the rules by repeatedly failing to declare the now notorious HMRC investigation into his tax affairs that left him coughing up £5m.

Sunak wrote that his ethics adviser had concluded there was a “serious breach” of the ministerial code. “As a result, I have informed you of my decision to remove you from your position,” he wrote.

In response, rather than showing contrition, Zahawi moaned on about being “concerned” about the “conduct from some of the fourth estate in recent weeks”.

Later in her interview with Burley, Whately was forced to remind the minister again of the functions of interviewer and interviewee when the minister failed to change the subject to the NHS once more.

"We will talk about that [the NHS] in the fullness of time, I have eight minutes with you and I will decide how we conduct this interview if you don't mind," Burley said.

And elsewhere Whateley also had a terrible time facing the scrutiny of other broadcasters.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, she came unstuck when she was asked why it was deemed acceptable for Suella Braverman to previously break the ministerial code but return to government while Zahawi was sacked.

Whateley mumbled about how she apologised and resigned at the time but said Braverman was needed to deal with one of Sunak's priorities - tackling small boats.

When speaking to Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4's the Today programme, she was asked whether Zahawi having the whip sat "with difficulty" with her "given he has been found to make an untrue public statement" and fumbled again.

And on Good Morning Britain she showed she struggles with other topics too, when she was asked to speak about problems with filling vacancies in the NHS.

Take a look here:

All we can say is we've definitely had better Monday mornings...

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)