It’s 100 days now since Rishi Sunak spoke of having “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” of his government as prime minister, and amid all the scandals which have happened in January alone, we’re sure he’s delivering on that promise.
On Monday, after sacking Nadhim Zahawi as a minister without portfolio and Conservative Party chairman the day before, Mr Sunak said during a visit to County Durham that he was able to make “a very quick decision” in that it was “no longer appropriate” for Mr Zahawi to remain in government.
“It relates to things that happened well before I was prime minister, so unfortunately I can’t change what happened in the past.
“What I did, as soon as I knew about the situation, was appoint someone independent, looked at it, got the advice and then acted pretty decisively,” he said.
That ‘independent someone’ was Sir Laurie Magnus, who concluded in a four-page report that Mr Zahawi “failed to disclose relevant information” about an investigation by HMRC and “its outcome in a penalty” during the appointment processes carried out in September and October.
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Mr Zahawi is understood to have paid £1 million as a penalty to the taxman, as part of a much larger £4.8 million settlement over a dispute concerning the sale of shares in YouGov, which he co-founded.
The former vaccines minister didn’t address the controversy in his letter to the PM responding to his sacking, instead expressing concern about the “conduct from some of the fourth estate in recent weeks”.
The sacking of Mr Zahawi came after a significant period of pressure on the Stratford-on-Avon MP, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying a week ago that Mr Sunak should “sack him today”.
On Tuesday, Labour chair Anneliese Dodds tweeted: “How can Nadhim Zahawi keep his job? Why is Rishi Sunak too weak to sack him?”
It turns out it took Mr Sunak an extra five days to do just that – how very decisive.
Of course, Mr Sunak has been “pretty decisive” in the past when it comes to making big decisions…
Resigning when Boris Johnson unlawfully prorogued parliament
Wait, he didn’t? Oh, never mind.
Resigning when Mr Johnson backed chief adviser Dominic Cummings despite his lockdown breach
Not at this point, either.
Resigning when Mr Johnson tried to change procedure to stop Owen Paterson’s suspension
Nope. Not yet.
Resigning when both him and Mr Johnson were fined over Partygate
Ha. Of course not.
Resigning when Mr Johnson’s government was no longer “acting in the national interest”
There we go. After joining the Johnson government in the middle of 2019, Mr Sunak finally “acted pretty decisively” and resigned from his government position in July last year – at that point he was chancellor of the Exchequer.
The Cambridge Dictionary tells us ‘decisive’ means being “able to make decisions quickly and confidently” – and this sure looks decisive to us!
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