There is a lingering scent of scandal over the British Conservative Party. On Friday January 20, police in Lancashire (north-west England) boasted somewhat incongruously (on Twitter) of having issued a fine for not wearing a seat belt to Rishi Sunak. The day before, Downing Street had posted a video of the Tory Prime Minister traveling in the north of the country, touting his policy in the back seat of his company car, without an apparent belt. Mr. Sunak acknowledged a “misjudgment”.
The criticism would have fizzled if it wasn’t for the second fine in less than a year received by the leader, who promised when he arrived in Downing Street in October 2022 that he would lead with “Professionalism, Integrity and Accountability”. Greater London police sanctioned him in the spring of 2022 for briefly attending a party in Downing Street during confinement. It was the birthday of then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had also been sanctioned by Scotland Yard.
There is much more disturbing: Nadhim Zahawi, minister without portfolio of the Sunak government and president of the Conservative Party, ended up recognizing, Sunday, January 22, having been in trouble with the tax authorities last year. According to the BBC, he had to pay up to 5 million pounds sterling (5.7 million euros) in penalties for not having correctly declared his income, after the sale of his shares in the YouGov polling company, of which he is a co-founder. However, it seems that this huge penalty was negotiated in the summer of 2022, when Mr. Zahawi was Chancellor of the Exchequer, that is to say Minister of Finance…
This conflict of interest was not denied by the Minister, who assured that his tax dispute was not “deliberate” but related to “negligence”. He refused to resign. How long will it last? Monday, January 23, Rishi Sunak called for an internal investigation. The position of Mr. Zahawi “ is untenable, judge Angela Rayner, vice-president of the Labor Party. The longer Mr. Sunak delays sanctioning Mr. Zahawi, the weaker the Prime Minister will appear. »
“It’s all a bit like a banana republic”
Mr. Zahawi is the fourth member of the Sunak cabinet to find himself in turmoil. Before him, Gavin Williamson had to give up his apron a fortnight after being appointed minister without portfolio, following allegations of harassment. Justice Minister Dominic Raab is also the subject of internal investigations for harassment but he clings to his post. Just like Suella Braverman, the Minister of the Interior, accused of having handled confidential information without precaution.
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