Politics news - latest: Zahawi attacks media after sacking; 'charismatic' Johnson suggested as replacement | Latest updates (2023)

Key points
  • Nadhim Zahawi sacked as Tory chairman| Read PM's letter in full
  • Sam Coates: Zahawi is out in a brutal fashion - and the investigation findings are unsparing
  • Could 'charismatic' Johnson be the next Tory chair?
  • No 10 denies PM 'was warned of Zahawi reputational risk'
  • Labour calls on Sunak to 'come clean' over scandal
  • The highlights of Zahawi tax affairs report
  • Live reporting byFaith Ridler


Sophy Ridge on Sunday podcast: Nadhim Zahawi is sacked

Nadhim Zahawi has been sacked as Tory party chairman after an ethics inquiry into the handling of his tax affairs found a "serious breach" of the ministerial code.

On the podcast, Sophy is joined by Rachel Cunliffe, senior associate editor of the New Statesman, and producer Scott Beasley to react to the news.

You can listen as you scroll through our Politics Hub below.


NHS to treat 50,000 elderly and vulnerable patients in 'virtual wards' at home

The NHS is planning to free up space in A&E by treating up to 50,000 elderly and vulnerable patients in "virtual wards" at home.

In December, about 10,000 people were being cared for in that way in England, and ministers want to increase the monthly figure five-fold.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said more "urgent community response teams" will be created to provide patients with at-home support "within two hours".

The changes are being made in "recognition of the pressures facing A&E".

"Up to 20% of emergency hospital admissions (are) avoidable with the right care in place," the DHSC said.

It is hoped that ambulance response times will improve as the plan is rolled out.

On Monday, NHS England is due to publish its Urgent and Emergency Care Plan, the purpose of which is to "reduce waiting times and improve care for patients".

The DHSC said there is "growing evidence" that virtual wards are a "safe and efficient alternative to hospital care, particularly for frail patients".

Those looked after in this way include frail elderly patients or those with acute respiratory infections and cardiac conditions.

(Video) James O'Brien's farewell message to Boris Johnson | LBC


From Zahawi and Raab to seatbelt gaffe - the U-turns and scandals of Rishi Sunak's first months as PM

Rishi Sunak's first three months as prime minister have been far from plain sailing.

Significant storm clouds are hanging over the government as the prime minister looks to overturn Labour's commanding lead in the polls.

Despite Mr Sunak trying to distance himself from the turbulent premiership of Boris Johnson, rows over propriety and standards have continued.

Here, Sky News looks at the scandals and U-turns during his time as PM - including his sacking of Tory chairman Nadhim Zahawi.


Labour says PM needed 'a backbone' to deal with Zahawi scandal

Anneliese Dodds, the chair of the Labour Party, has told Sky News than rather than an investigation, Rishi Sunak "needed a backbone" to deal with the Nadhim Zahawi tax scandal.

She said: "We knew about these allegations for a very long period of time and the prime minister, he vacillated, he wobbled, he could't decide what to do.

"Even after it had become clear that while he was chancellor Mr Zahawi had been the person in charge of HMRC while he was actually negotiating with HMRC.

"I think for ordinary people looking on at this situation, people who pay their taxes, you don't get to negotiate with HMRC. They rightly expect far better of their government and Rishi Sunak has let people down on this.

"As I say, he is just too weak to put the interests of our country first rather than, it seems, the interests of his internal party management."

Earlier. Labour called on Mr Sunak to "come clean" about what he knew about Mr Zahawi's tax affairs - and when he found out.


The seven major findings from the PM’s Zahawi investigation

Nadhim Zahawi's failure to disclose that he was in discussions with HMRC over his taxes was a "serious failure to meet" ministerial standards, a damning report into the affair has found.

Sir Laurie Magnus, who carried out the investigation as the prime minister's new ethics adviser, said theformer chancellor"should have understood" from the outset that he was under investigation by HMRC and that it was a "serious matter".

He also criticised the MP for Stratford-on-Avon for failing to correct the record for more than six months, after he dismissed reports that HMRC was "looking into" his tax affairs as "smears" during a July 2022 interview with Sky News's Kay Burley.

Mr Zahawi was sacked asToryparty chairman on Sunday by Prime MinisterRishi Sunakfollowing the publication of Sir Laurie's report, which looked into whether the former minister had fallen foul of the ministerial code.

Here Sky News looks at the key points in Sir Laurie's report...

(Video) From Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak: 2022 was a "shambolic" year in UK politics | The New Statesman


'This misery has gone on too long': Labour urges 'genuine timelines' for action on unsafe housing

Back to the situation around the Grenfell Tower tragedy for a moment.

Michael Gove today apologised to the families affected by the disaster and admitted that "faulty and ambiguous" government guidance was part of the reason why the fire occurred.

Speaking to Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, the housing secretary said it is "undeniably the case" that official guidance - which was widely seen to allow highly flammable cladding on tall buildings - was wrong.

However, he added that responsibility forthe fire at the residential tower block in North Kensington, west London, in June 2017 - which killed 72 people - extends beyond the Conservative government.

"I think that if you look at what happened toGrenfell, there were lots of factors but yes, government collectively has to take some responsibility,"Mr Govesaid.

His Labour counterpart, Lisa Nandy, has now pressed him to establish "genuine timelines for remediation... and further action to ensure fair liability of the wider industry".

She said: "Five years after Grenfell only 7% of flats at fire risk are fixed.

"This misery has gone on long enough. It's been almost a year since the government last issued an ultimatum to developers.

"We need genuine timelines for remediation…and further action to ensure fair liability of the wider industry, including the manufacturers of unsafe cladding and insulation.

"This is an issue that has plagued thousands of lives for too long. New urgency is welcome but this time we need to fix it."


(Video) Farage | Wednesday 25th January

Little internal protest among Tories over Zahawi sacking - but Sunak now has even more ground to make up

Analysis by Beth Rigby, political editor

The verdict is in and the decision delivered. Nadhim Zahawi did commit "a very serious breach of the ministerial code" and the prime minister has sacked his party chairman.

Cue a collective sigh of relief from a parliamentary party irritated and angered that the tax affairs of a multi-millionaire cabinet minister had dominated the headlines for days.

Even before Sir Laurie Magnus concluded that Mr Zahawi had "shown insufficient regard for the general principles of the ministerial code, under the requirements in particular…to be honest, open and an exemplary leader through his own behaviour", MPs had decided there was only on course of events: that Mr Zahawi had to go.

Because the spectacle of a cabinet minister and former chancellor, who had £27m of wealth that he didn't initially pay tax on, when people are struggling to make ends meet, just doesn't pass the sniff test.

But what emerged on Sunday makes the optics worse still: We know that Mr Zahawi did end up settling with the HMRC, reportedly paying a £5m sum (including a penalty).

Read Rigby's analysis in full in the link below...


Labour calls on Sunak to 'come clean' over Zahawi tax scandal

The Labour Party is this afternoon calling on Rishi Sunak to "come clean" about what he knew about the Nadhim Zahawi tax scandal.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner and Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chair, have written to the prime minister asking for "full transparency".

They said Mr Sunak should reveal what he knew about the investigation into Mr Zahawi's tax affairs - and when he found out.

Ms Rayner described Mr Sunak as "hopelessly weak", adding he was "dragged kicking and screaming into doing what he should have done long ago."

The MPs have posed a number of questions to Mr Sunak.

These include:

  • When he was made aware of the HMRC investigation into Mr Zahawi's tax affairs and if he knew the former party chair had agreed a multi-million pound settlement with the taxman;
  • Why he previously stated at PMQs that all questions on this issue had been answered;
  • What discussions he had with Mr Zahawi before appointing him to his cabinet;
  • When he will keep his promise to publish his own tax return for the 2022/23 tax year;
  • If any Conservative ministers had failed to submit their declaration of interests, and when the next register would be published.

Ms Dodds said: "Nadhim Zahawi should have been sacked when this murky affair first surfaced. The fact that he has been able to spend weeks dodging questions shows just how weak Rishi Sunak is.

"We need to know precisely what Rishi Sunak knew about Zahawi's tax affairs and the HMRC investigation, why he was appointed to the cabinet in the first place, and when the prime minister will be transparent about his own tax return."


(Video) Vanessa Feltz | 25-Jan-23

What now for Nadhim Zahawi?

Earlier today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sacked Nadhim Zahawi as Tory party chairmanfor a "serious breach" of the ministerial code following controversy over his tax affairs.

So what happens to Mr Zahawi now?

The Liberal Democrats have called for him to also stand down as MP for Stratford-on-Avon, saying he is "unfit to serve" his constituents.

But Mr Zahawi seems intent on remaining in his role, saying in a statement released shortly after his dismissal that the PM can be "assured of my support from the backbenches in the coming years".

His comments also appear to indicate that he holds out little prospect of returning to office in the years to come.

What about his salary?

Mr Zahawi, while he still sits as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, will still receive the basic annual salary of an MP.

This is £84,144 as of April 2022.

Having been dismissed from Mr Sunak's cabinet, he will no longer receive the additional sum for being a minister.

As of April 2022, cabinet ministers have been able to claim up to £72,454 - but have claimed £67,505.


PM 'did the right thing' in sacking Zahawi, says Scottish Tory chairman

Rishi Sunak made "the right decision" by sacking Nadhim Zahawi, the chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party has said.

Chris Hoy said it was "only right and proper" that Mr Sunak "asked Sir Laurie Magnus, his ethics adviser, to look into the issue".

He told the BBC: "Laurie has come back and swiftly concluded that Nadhim has broken the ministerial code and the prime minister has then acted decisively in removing Mr Zahawi from office.

"I think the prime minister has done the right thing really."

Pressed on why it took so long to dismiss Mr Zahawi, Mr Hoy defended the prime minister, saying the sacking "hasn't been hanging around for months" and that Mr Sunak acted "decisively".

He also said the prime minister had insisted he was not aware of "those tax issues and his tax affairs" when he appointed Mr Zahawi to government.

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