‘He will not stand down’: UK’s Conservative chair holds firm over tax dispute
In the three months since Rishi Sunak was appointed Prime Minister, his government has been plagued by questions about the probity of some of its legislators after he promised to lead the country with “integrity, professionalism and responsibility”.
“He will not be stepping down,” one ally said of Zahawi, after the Conservative chairman gave details of how he resolved a dispute with Britain’s tax authorities. They ruled that he had been “negligent” with his statements but had not, he said, deliberately made a mistake to pay less tax.
The opposition Labor Party said Sunak, who became Britain’s third prime minister in as many months after his two predecessors were ousted first by scandal and then by economic chaos, was too weak. to fire Zahawi.
“His position is totally untenable, and it should not be a case of us waiting for him to resign, the Prime Minister should fire him,” said Lucy Powell, a senior Labor lawmaker, to BBC News.
“Every day that passes only shows the weakness of the prime minister who actually cannot fire Nadhim Zahawi.”
The case concerns Zahawi’s co-founding of opinion polling firm YouGov in 2000. He said he had asked his father to help finance and support the launch, in exchange for a share.
He said that when he was appointed Finance Minister last year by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, questions were raised about his tax affairs, which led him to raise them with government officials and the tax office. who did not agree with the number of shares given to his father.
“So that I can focus on my life as a public servant, I chose to resolve the issue and pay what they said was due, which was the right thing to do,” he said in a statement issued on Saturday.
He also said the tax office found he had not set up offshore tax arrangements but the statement did not address whether he had paid a penalty to the tax office.
A tax policy website – Tax Policy Associates – estimated that Zahawi should have paid 3.7 million pounds ($4.59 million) based on capital gains tax incurred from the sale of shares in YouGov worth more from 20 million pounds.
The Guardian newspaper reported that the tax authorities had imposed a penalty of 30% in addition to the tax due.
According to the government’s website, a penalty of 30% can be paid where there was a “lack of reasonable care” or where the error is considered deliberate.
Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said on Sunday Zahawi should publish all information related to the case and “get everything out now, whatever you want to do, and make it clear”.
($1 = 0.8061 pounds)
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan, editing by Ed Osmond)