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Pressure growing on Stratford MP over tax dispute with HMRC

STRATFORD MP Nadhim Zahawi has insisted he will not resign as Conservative Party chairman, despite growing pressure from Labour over his tax dispute with HMRC.

Mr Zahawi released a statement over the weekend to “address some of the confusion” about his finances.

While he admitted he paid a settlement to HM Revenue & Customs, the multi-millionaire said this resulted from a “careless and not deliberate” tax error related to his father’s shareholding in the polling company he co-founded, YouGov.

Nadhim Zahawi MP. Photo: Mark williamson
Nadhim Zahawi MP. Photo: Mark williamson

The former chancellor released a statement on Saturday said when he set up YouGov in 2000, his father took founder shares.

“Twenty one years later, when I was being appointed chancellor of the Exchequer, questions were being raised about my tax affairs,” he said. “I discussed this with the cabinet office at the time.

“Following discussions with HMRC, they agreed that my father was entitled to founder shares in YouGov, though they disagreed about the exact allocation. They concluded that this was a ‘careless and not deliberate’ error.

“So that I could focus on my life as a public servant, I chose to settle the matter and pay what they said was due, which was the right thing to do.”

Mr Zahawi said the matter was resolved and added that “all my tax affairs were up to date” by the time he became Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster in September.

While he did not reveal how much he has paid HMRC – and how much of that was a penalty – it has been widely reported that the total was £4.8m.

This is believed to include a 30 per cent penalty.

While Mr Zahawi is resisting pressure to step down as chairman of the Conservative Party, one Stratford Tory party insider said the MP is unlikely to face similar pressure in his constituency.

“There is no indication that he is going to be fired and no indication that he intends to stand down,” he told the Herald last week. “Rishi [Sunak] can’t really be seen to lose someone like him and he is clearly viewed as important in the run-up to the next general election as party chairman, so, yes, I think he will survive.”

He added: “Locally, there is a lot of frustration but that doesn’t seem to be manifesting itself in a concerted way to deselect him. The Stratford Tory party isn’t really that sort of institution and those in the senior roles seem to still back him, despite everything.

“I don’t doubt the opposition locally will use this against them and, frankly, I don’t blame them. But it still seems unlikely that it will cost him enough votes to put his seat in jeopardy.

“So, I suspect this is another storm that will blow over and things will carry on as usual.

“Whether that is in the best interests of his constituents and his party is another matter.”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has been urged by Labour to sack Mr Zahawi.

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