GMB Union continues to call for the Tories to get out of Westminster and make way for a Labour government that can deliver for the country.

27 January 2023

Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon, has held more positions in the Tory Party cabinet than perhaps any other MP; from vaccines to education to the economy, Zahawi’s CV must be chock-full. However, despite all his experience, in recent weeks, his 2-month stint as Chancellor of the Exchequer under the capsizing Boris Johnson government in the summer of 2022, has been of major interest. Ironically, as the person with the ultimate responsibility for tax collection in the country, Zahawi has struggled to get his own monetary affairs in order. Once again, the Tories demonstrate that they are morally and professionally unfit to govern.

The facts of the controversy are as follows. Whilst Chancellor, Zahawi paid approximately 4.8 million pounds to settle a tax dispute, which included a thirty percent penalty charge of the overall amount, equating to 1.1 million, which raised the money owed from 3.7 million to 4.8 million. The money was owed as part of a long-winded investigation by HMRC into Zahawi’s status as a shareholder in the polling company he co-founded in 2000, YouGov. At the time, it was believed that Zahawi took zero percent of the shares, simultaneously, forty percent of the company’s shares were allocated to another company called Balshore Investments; owned by Zahawi’s parents, this company is based in the historical, overseas tax haven of Gibraltar.

Had Balshore Investments and subsequently Mr Zahawi’s parents genuinely took forty percent of the shares, HMRC’s investigation would not have concluded with Zahawi being instructed to pay the aforementioned amount. However, the company made profits of twenty-seven million pounds by selling its YouGov shares, which if taxed, would have resulted in the company paying 3.7 million to HMRC; this figure matches the sum Zahawi was instructed to pay, minus the penalty charge. Furthermore, documents obtained from Balshore Investments revealed that ninety-nine thousand pounds was sent to Zahawi in July 2022, raising further suspicion as to whether Zahawi is totally independent of Balshore Investments.

In June 2022, during an interview with Sky News, Zahawi frivolously denied profiting off Balshore Investments, suggesting it was his parent’s business, they lived aboard, and all dealings were legal and transparent. However, since paying the fine, Zahawi has changed his stance; suggesting in a statement given on Saturday 21st January 2023, that his actions throughout this whole process were ‘careless and not deliberate.’ Undoubtedly, any Tory politician caught in this position would not admit to such scandalous behaviour, and as time and memorial suggests, change their position in accordance with what the public knows; like a vulgar game of chess, Zahawi and co are determined to worm their way out of each and every scandal.

Ironically, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who is no stranger to paying fines, the first for partygate and the second for seatbeltgate, is launching an investigation into his not-so honourable friends tax affairs. Foolishly, having run a leadership campaign on restoring integrity, professionalism and accountability at the heart of government, the PM failed to realize that those values are nowhere to be found amongst the same old, tired and recycled Tory ministers. GMB Union echoes the comments made by Labour leader, Keir Starmer, who said ‘Zahawi cannot stay as Tory Party chair. The very idea that he can be discussing and negotiating his own tax affairs with the body he is supposed to be running is wrong.’ Zahawi has taken gross advantage of his position, at the expense of the nation, for every penny he does not pay in tax, another hospital bed is missing, another school is denied planning permission, another essential service is not given adequate funding and its staff do not receive a proper pay rise.

Elsewhere, more scandals of Tory Party past continue to haunt the latest iteration of senior ministers. Bogeyman Boris, as he should be nicknamed, once again rears his ugly head; yet another problem for the latest PM who is determined to get away from his predecessors’ shenanigans. At this point, everyone from the public to politicians have lost count of the number of investigations Johnson has been subject to, and the list continues to grow, as this week another investigation has been launched into the appointment process of BBC chairman, Richard Sharp, whilst Johnson was PM; following reports that Sharp as his guarantor helped Johnson secure an eight-hundred-thousand-pound loan, in exchange for his recommendation for the chairman position.

Whilst the aforementioned investigation is in its infancy, the fact Johnson is yet again the subject of dodgy dealings suggests there is no smoke without fire – or in this case, without Johnson. GMB Union condemns any form of nepotism, especially where the public interests are concerned. Furthermore, the job of the media, and especially the BBC, should be to provide an unbiased account, based purely on the facts; but this becomes much more difficult when said chairman is engaged in a you scratch my back, I scratch yours affair, with the notorious former leader of this Conservative government.

Unsurprisingly, the Tories continue to pollute central government with their putrid party politics. From Zahawi to Johnson, this governments ministers prove time and time again that they are willing to go to the bowls of dishonesty, incompetency and unaccountability, with no concern for the impact they are having on the nation’s economy or reputation. GMB Union continues to call for the Tories to get out of Westminster and make way for a Labour government that can deliver for the country.

Neil Smith, Political Officer

Written and edited by Shaun Nash