LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday ordered an investigation into a wealthy ally’s murky tax dealings as he again vowed “integrity” in his government after Boris Johnson’s scandal-plagued tenure.

As well as the probe into Conservative party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, PM Sunak faced hostile questions about the appointment of BBC chairman Richard Sharp, a former banker who acted as a go-between to help funnel a loan to Mr Johnson when he was in 10 Downing Street.

The apparent scandals surrounding well-off individuals threaten to become a political distraction for Mr Sunak as he battles to restore the Conservatives’ standing in the polls in the midst of Britain’s worst cost-of-living crisis in decades.

Mr Sunak refused to accede to opposition demands to fire Mr Zahawi, who reportedly settled a seven-figure demand from tax authorities with a fine for late payment when he served briefly as chancellor of the exchequer last year under former primer Johnson.

The prime minister instead commissioned a probe by his newly appointed ministerial ethics advisor, Laurie Magnus, conceding that “clearly in this case, there are questions that need answering”.

Mr Sunak appointed Mr Zahawi as party chairman, and cabinet minister without portfolio, when he entered Downing Street in October.

He deflected questions about Mr Zahawi’s activities prior to then, as concerns mounted about whether Johnson knew of the tax investigation when he appointed the Iraqi-born politician as chancellor and head of the UK’s tax authority.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

The Musharraf enigma
Updated 06 Feb, 2023

The Musharraf enigma

The Musharraf era holds numerous lessons for Pakistan’s ruling elite, civilian and military.
Staying neutral
06 Feb, 2023

Staying neutral

THE Election Commission of Pakistan has what is perhaps one of the most thankless jobs in the country. The countless...
Wikipedia ban
06 Feb, 2023

Wikipedia ban

THE country was back in a familiar, dark place last week when the PTA blocked Wikipedia over the charge that it...
IMF’s firm stance
Updated 05 Feb, 2023

IMF’s firm stance

Pakistan needs to complete the review to stave off a default as well as to unlock inflows from other multilateral and bilateral lenders.
Grotesque bigotry
05 Feb, 2023

Grotesque bigotry

FREEDOM to profess one’s faith is guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan. However, for the country’s Ahmadi...
Kashmir reflections
05 Feb, 2023

Kashmir reflections

ASIDE from Kashmir Day, which the nation is observing today as an official holiday, there are a number of other days...