Calls for Nadhim Zahawi to resign as Stratford MP
PRESSURE is continuing to build on Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi following Sunday’s decision by prime minister Rishi Sunak to sack him from the government.
Some of his critics are demanding he should have the Conservative whip withdrawn and the Liberal Democrats, both locally and nationally, are calling for him to resign as an MP.
The demand for him to quit as an MP has even been made by one of Mr Zahawi’s Tory colleagues in parliament, Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who is treasurer of the influential backbench 1922 Committee.
But Mr Zahawi, who was found by the government’s ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus to have been in serious breach of the ministerial code because of his lack of transparency regarding his tax affairs, appears to be in fighting mood.
In his letter to Mr Sunak responding to his sacking Mr Zahawi made no mention of the breaches of the code and there was no apology from him. Instead he made reference to the privilege of serving in the government and the successes he was proud of, such as the Covid vaccine roll-out.
Mr Zahawi also said he was looking forward to continuing his support for Mr Sunak from the backbenches, which was a strong indication that he has absolutely no intention of resigning as the MP for Stratford.
And now there are suggestions from Mr Zahawi’s allies that the sacked Conservative party chairman and minister without portfolio believes he was unfairly treated during the ethics adviser’s investigation. They argue that he was allowed only one 30-minute interview with Sir Laurie and believes he was not given enough time to make his case.
There’s speculation that Mr Zahawi will be making a full statement shortly.
Meanwhile Manuela Perteghella, the Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for the Stratford constituency, has echoed her party nationally by calling on Mr Zahawi to quit as an MP.
She said: “The Liberal Democrats are calling for Mr Zahawi to do the right thing and resign as an MP. We are also calling for a proper independent inquiry to establish the facts and hold the prime minister to account.
“Further, now that the prime minister has sacked Mr Zahawi, it’s time for the local Conservative Party to get off the fence. In his letter to the prime minister Mr Zahawi appears to show no contrition and there is no apology to his constituents.
“He states he will be serving as a backbencher MP ‘in the coming years’. The Stratford Conservatives need to make clear: are they backing Mr Zahawi in his aim to be an MP for years to come, or are they going to ask him to resign?”
In the meantime the Labour Party is concentrating most of its firepower on Mr Sunak, demanding to know what he knew and when and accusing him of weakness for not sacking Mr Zahawi earlier.
In another development a campaigner has called on progressives in the Stratford constituency to come together to oust ‘absentee MP’ Nadhim Zahawi at the next general election.
Speaking before Mr Zahawi’s sacking, Vikki Parker, coordinator of Stratford-On-Avon Compass, a cross-party campaign group, also said the Conservative Party chairman should ‘do the decent thing and resign’ after it emerged the HMRC had asked Zahawi to pay a seven-figure settlement over his tax affairs.
Ms Parker said: “Nadhim Zahawi is an absentee MP. I feel he does little locally and this tax fiasco is yet another example of the sleaze, corruption and dishonesty that continues to taint the Conservative Party.
“My message to Nadhim Zahawi would be to do the decent thing and resign.”
Mr Zahawi has been MP for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010. At the last general election in 2019, he won a majority of 19,972.
Electoral calculus predictions based on current polling suggest the Conservatives could still win the seat next time - but unlike in 2019, the progressive vote would outnumber the Tory vote.
This means that if Labour, the Green Party and the Lib Dems worked together and united behind a single candidate, they could stand a chance of winning the seat.
Ms Parker said: “I’d like the progressive parties to have some honest conversations about what’s happened in the past and to then resolve to stop looking backwards and to start looking forwards, working together to focus on getting what we all want, which is an MP with integrity who will serve all their constituents honestly and properly.”
“The reason I’m part of Compass is that I don’t feel represented. I’ve voted all my life and never been represented by somebody I voted for”.
“At the last general election the majority voted for progressive politics. It galls me that whilst more people voted against Boris Johnson than voted for him, he became PM. We are desperately in need of electoral reform, where votes count equally”.
Win As One, which launched in December, is a new campaign from Compass focused on facilitating collaboration in key seats across the country to help a progressive government win power.