Nadhim Zahawi: Sunak says he handled case decisively

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Desk report: Rishi Sunak has defended his handling of Nadhim Zahawi’s sacking, arguing he followed “the right process”.

An investigation by the PM’s ethics adviser found Mr Zahawi had breached the ministerial code seven times while failing to disclose that HMRC was investigating his tax affairs.

Mr Sunak said he “acted pretty decisively” once the inquiry concluded, firing Mr Zahawi on Sunday.

Labour said the prime minister should have sacked Mr Zahawi “long ago”.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner called Mr Sunak a “hopelessly weak” prime minister who had “been dragged kicking and screaming into doing what he should have done long ago”.

“Rishi Sunak shouldn’t have needed an ethics adviser to tell him that Nadhim Zahawi’s position was untenable,” she said.

Ms Rayner and Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds have now written to the prime minister asking him to “come clean” about when he was made aware of the HMRC investigation into Mr Zahawi.

But speaking in County Durham, the prime minister defended his handling of situation and stressed his commitment to “integrity”.

“What I have done is follow a process, which is the right process,” he said.

“As soon as I knew about the situation, I appointed somebody independent, looked at it, got the advice and acted pretty decisively to move on.

“The things that happened before I was prime minister, I can’t do anything about. What I think you can hold me to account for is how I deal with the things that arise on my watch.”

Mr Sunak also promised he would “take whatever steps are necessary to restore the integrity back into politics”.

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