NICHOLAS CECIL FROM EVENING STANDARD
Nadhim Zahawi was urged on Tuesday to stand aside as Tory party chairman while his tax affairs are probed by the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser.
The call came from senior Conservative Caroline Nokes, chair of the Commons women and equalities committee.
She told BBC Breakfast: “Nadhim should stand aside until this matter is all cleared up.”
Her comments came as Mr Zahawi’s future as Tory chairman looked in increasing doubt as a minister said there were “very serious questions to answer” over his tax affairs.
Rishi Sunak on Monday ordered a probe by his ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus into Mr Zahawi’s tax situation saying there were “questions to answer” about it, and his compliance with the ministerial code.
But policing minister Chris Philp on Tuesday appeared to up the rhetoric, by referring to “very serious questions”.
Mr Sunak had defended the Cabinet minister at Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, saying he had “addressed the matter in full”.
But the Prime Minister appears to have been unaware that Mr Zahawi had allegedly been given a penalty in reaching a settlement with HM Revenue and Customs over shares sold in YouGov, a company which he co-founded.
The BBC said on Monday that Mr Zahawi did pay a penalty as part of the deal, reported by the Guardian to be around 30 per cent, taking the total estimated settlement to around £4.8 million, though the figures have not been confirmed.
Mr Zahawi has stressed that his “error” over the YouGov shares was “careless and not deliberate”.
In a statement, he said: “I am confident I acted properly throughout and look forward to answering any and all specific questions in a formal setting to Sir Laurie.”
Ms Nokes told BBC Breakfast: “Nadhim needs to come clean on all of the questions that are being posed by journalists and others.
“We need clarity.
“It’s a really difficult situation for any Government minister when you are pretty much leading the news, on every front page this morning.”