Politics

Nadhim Zahawi said Keir Starmer is 'rebranding' and everyone made the same point

Tory chair Nadhim Zahawi urges nurses to drop pay demands to 'send message to Putin'

Sky News

A new year is upon us, and for many, it’s seen as an opportunity for a fresh start – even for political leaders Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer, who both gave speeches this week on their parties’ priorities for the years to come.

Some may be cynical of the virtuous nature of a clean start – especially when it comes to politicians refreshing their image – but Cabinet Office minister and Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi of all people is probably not best placed to criticise Sir Keir Starmer’s new vision and “rebrand”.

Sharing a Tory attack ad on Sir Keir’s speech on Thursday, Mr Zahawi tweeted: “The 10th rebrand by Keir Starmer – yet he hasn’t changed.

“He’s the same strike-loving, Corbyn-backing, uncontrolled migration-supporting lawyer that he was on day one.”

Even if it didn’t come from the Stratford-on-Avon MP, it would have been a characteristically cringeworthy criticism from a Tory, but it doesn’t help that it wasn’t that long ago that the former vaccines minister changed his mind in the most spectacular fashion.

Back in October, when Liz Truss resigned as prime minister and the Conservative Party was once again forced to elect a new leader, Mr Zahawi decided to tweet out his support for one individual rumoured to make a return to the top job.

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He wrote: “I’m backing Boris. He got the big calls right, whether it was ordering more vaccines ahead of more waves of Covid, arming [Ukraine] early against the advice of some, or stepping down for the sake of unity.

“But now, Britain needs him back. We need to unite to deliver on our manifesto.

“When I was chancellor, I saw a preview of what Boris 2.0 would look like. He was contrite and honest about his mistakes. He’d learned from those mistakes and how he could run No 10 and the country better.

“With a unified team behind him, he is the one to lead us to victory and prosperity.”

How unfortunate, then, that not long after putting out that message, Boris Johnson decided once again to rule himself out of a leadership contest.

“In the course of the last days, I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament,” he said.

So… Bit awkward for Nadhim, then.

In an embarrassing turnaround, the minister shared a new tweet that evening and said: “A day is a long time in politics…

“Given today’s news, it’s clear that we should turn to Rishi Sunak to become our next prime minister. Rishi is immensely talented, will command a strong majority in the parliamentary Conservative Party, and will have my full support and loyalty.”

Not the best person to criticise someone for changing things up a little, minister – and Twitter users were quick to point out that fact.

One replied to Mr Zahawi’s attack ad tweet on Thursday by saying: “Personal integrity is always important, Nadhim. That’s [why] when I take a big job, I always decide to tell the bloke who appointed me to resign, then change my mind, then change my mind about changing my mind, all before 48 hours are up.”

“Bold words for someone whose party had three PMs in the space of two months, so maybe simmer down,” suggested Labour and Co-op councillor Matt Dent.

A third noted: “Nadhim Zahawi, who backed Boris Johnson, then Liz Truss, then Rishi Sunak separately as ‘the best leader’ in the space of three months, doesn’t like rebranding.”

There were also many jokes about stables, in relation to the MP apologising for claiming taxpayers’ money to heat his own, but that horse has already bolted.

Mr Zahawi has been approached by Indy100 for comment.

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