Rishi Sunak looks weak – he should stop shaking over Tory Nadhim Zahawi’s tax disgrace
IF there’s one thing the Tories don’t need right now, it’s another scandal.
And unfortunately for the government, the sad story of Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs could not have come at a worse time.
It gives the impression that the Tories are falling apart.
And the muddle makes our Prime Minister – an optimistic technocrat at heart – look more than a little overwhelmed.
Ever since that paper revealed that the Conservative Party leader had settled a multi-million pound tax bill, there has rightly been a national outcry.
We now know that Mr Zahawi paid a huge fine to HMRC when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer as part of an estimated £5million settlement.
Millions of ordinary taxpayers are claiming his head – and they have a very good point.
Even the HMRC chief claimed that in people’s tax matters there were “no penalties for innocent errors”.
But amid calls for the party leader’s resignation, Rishi Sunak has hired his independent ethics adviser to investigate whether Zahawi’s tax affairs are in line with the ministerial code.
However, the longer this rumbles, the more uncomfortable things become for Rishi.
His position as prime minister was already seen as weak and ineffective, with various about-faces and tax hikes further dampening his appeal.
It’s also easy to forget that the Conservative Party is still deeply divided – with the old scars left by Brexit and the movement to “bring Boris back” still rearing its head.
And it comes amid the resignations of disgraced MPs, plus allegations of bullying, sketchy PPE contracts, lockdown parties and sexual abuse.
The sleaze keeps piling up.
It doesn’t help Rishi that he’s fabulously wealthy himself and has had to deal with an intense scrutiny of his wife’s former Non-Dom tax status.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being rich.
In fact, I remember a time in Britain when people were after wealth.
In politics, however, a balance must be found.
Being considered “out of touch” with ordinary Britons is counterproductive and impractical.
And it is precisely this feeling that is currently plaguing the conservative leadership.
In his capacity as party leader, Mr Zahawi is expected to lead the Tories to the next crucial elections in May.
But how is he supposed to do that when he’s dealing with these questions about his tax affairs?
When the general election comes, Sunak must retain the support of the “Red Wall” to have any hope of retaining the party’s lower house majority.
But when people are grappling with the current cost-of-living crisis, the idea of a government minister owing £5million in taxes is unfathomable.
In another industry, you would champion a character like Zahawi.
A Middle Eastern immigrant who comes to the UK and becomes incredibly successful?
It is the stuff of Anglo-American exceptionalism.
But unfortunately for Mr Zahawi, he has chosen a political career.
And complacency in politics is the kiss of death.
Hitting the right note with the audience is the most important thing for the future.
Rishi Sunak has to bear this in mind if he wants to have a chance in the next parliamentary elections.
Is work worth the extra effort?
Urging the economically inactive to get back to work, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt stressed: “Britain needs you.
He followed up his rally speech this week with an interview addressing the early retirees who left the workforce during Covid.
Mr Hunt stressed, “You can live an enormously rich life by continuing to contribute to the economy.”
And he quipped, “It doesn’t have to be just about going to the golf course.”
I’m sure everyone can understand why people who can afford it choose to retire early rather than toil at work.
If the pandemic has given us one thing, it’s perspective.
Life is more than work.
The Chancellor has an interesting challenge in trying to lure people like that back in.
Options on the table are said to include tax breaks for over-50s and an increase in pension pots.
The amount of tax-free retirement savings could be increased to encourage those over 50 to return to work.
According to him, he will deal with the conditions under which it is “worthwhile” to return to work.
Star Beys the award with Dubai’s backlash
HAVE you ever wondered how easy it is to give up your principles?
Well, according to LGBT activist Beyonce’s actions, it’s around £20million for appearing at a hotel launch in Dubai, a country known for its less-than-stellar track record on gay rights.
For most of us, that’s not a sum any sane person would refuse.
However, for Ms Knowles-Carter, whose net worth exceeds £400million, that money would not have made a huge difference in her life.
If she had turned it down, she would have spared herself the backlash she received during the performance.
Is Beyonce, right, a hypocrite for performing in Dubai? Perhaps.
But the bigger problem here is the fact that many celebrities see themselves as bastions of pious virtue and morality while looking down on the rest of the common people.
Less virtue signalling, more entertainment please.
Island of Terrors
TIRED, moaning and mature – welcome to middle-aged Love Island.
Because nothing says Casa Amor as much as 40-year-olds talking about wine and divorce.
The Romance Retreat, ITV’s new take on the dating format, will focus on finding love for middle-aged parents in a lavish villa abroad.
This is “diversity TV” on steroids.
For all the criticism Love Island gets, it’s exactly what its young audience wants – sun-kissed, bikini-clad twenty-somethings with barely two brain cells to rub.
German gas tank dilemma
Chancellor Olaf Scholz bowed to international pressure from allies this week to supply Ukraine’s army with tanks to help in the ongoing war against Russia.
The Scholz government not only decided to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but also allows other countries like Poland to do so as they hold the export licenses.
But why the initial tremors from Berlin?
It is clear that Mr Scholz reluctantly agreed to the move, as many critics were unhappy that Germany could be drawn deeper into a direct conflict with Vladimir Putin.
Even the German public is divided over this decision: Opinion polls show that almost half of Germans disapprove of the plan.
It may seem hard to imagine, but German industry is struggling to get much-needed supplies of natural gas.
So, given the country’s hapless reliance on cheap gas, is it any wonder Mr Scholz fears further angering the Russian bear?
This week Ferrari announced a patent to increase the performance noise of its electric cars.
And if you’re a sports car enthusiast, it’s the saddest thing you’ll ever read.
The luxury brand’s first electric vehicle will reportedly feature built-in speakers mimicking the famous Ferrari roar.
This is catfishing for cars. It’s cheating in every sense of the word.
Who would spend a fortune on a Ferrari to get their sexy gas on a “sound reproducing device”?
The outrage! It has the same appeal as vegans who pretend their version of meat is the real meat.
The only good news is that Ferrari is patenting this abomination.
Hopefully other brands will think twice before copying it.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7251586/esther-krakue-nadhim-zahawi-rishi-sunak/ Rishi Sunak looks weak – he should stop shaking over Tory Nadhim Zahawi’s tax disgrace