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Nadhim Zahawi Under Pressure To Resign Over Tax Affairs, Ambulance Staff Walk Out, Keir Starmer Seeking Chief of Staff

Nadhim Zahawi Under Pressure To Resign Over Tax Affairs, Ambulance Staff Walk Out, Keir Starmer Seeking Chief of Staff

Nadhim Zahawi, pictured in January 2023 (Alamy)

5 min read

Labour has called Nadhim Zahawi’s position as Conservative party chairman “completely untenable”, after it was reported that he settled his tax issue with HMRC while he was Chancellor.

Zahawi has admitted to a “careless” mistake which saw him pay the tax collectors what it “was due” after a disagreement “about the exact allocation” of shares in the YouGov polling company he founded.

Zahawi did not address the size of the settlement, but the Guardian has reported the total to be more than £4.5m. 

Sources have now suggested to Sky News and the BBC that the settlement was resolved while Zahawi served as Chancellor last summer. 

Labour chair, Anneliese Dodds, called the incident  “deeply damaging to public trust, with a Chancellor in charge of the nation’s finances asking the public to pay their taxes while apparently having failed to do so himself”.

She added: “His position is clearly untenable. Every hour that Rishi Sunak refuses to sack him shows just how weak the Prime Minister is.”

The pressure on Sunak to act comes after he became the second serving prime minister to be fined while in office, after being filmed not wearing a seatbelt in a moving car last week. 

Lancashire Police confirmed on Friday evening that they had issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty. 

No 10 said in a statement that the “Prime Minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised". 

They added: “He will of course comply with the fixed penalty”. 

National Grid will pay customers to reduce energy use during today’s peak demand

National Grid is preparing to pay customers to reduce their energy use during this evening’s peak, as supply margins are “expected to be tighter than normal”. 

Around one million people are reported to have signed up to the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) scheme which could see them paid as much as £10 a day to cut their power use at certain times, including 5pm – 6pm on Monday. 

Examples of ways to cut usage during these periods could be not running a dishwasher, or waiting to charge an electric car. 

The DFS was established last year when concerns mounted over the UK’s power supplies this winter following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The system has previously been trialled, but this would be the first time it has been launched. 

A National Grid spokesperson said: “Our forecasts show electricity supply margins are expected to be tighter than normal on Monday evening.

“This does not mean electricity supplies are at risk and people should not be worried. These are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need.”

Strikes latest: Ambulance staff walk out in England and Wales as industrial pay disputes roll on

Ambulance staff in three unions are striking today as they continue their dispute over pay. 

Thousands of staff in Unite, Unison and the GMB unions have walked out, but in line with other strikes, will still attend to life-threatening 999 calls. 

PoliticsHome reported over the weekend that the stand-off between the government and unions over strike action shows no sign of ending soon, ahead of a day of mass strike action on 1 February. 

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of union Prospect, told this week's PoliticsHome podcast The Rundown that he had faced "tumbleweeds" since he met with the government early last week for a fruitless discussion on the subject of civil servant pay. 

He accused the government of "playing it long" by offering little of substance in discussions with union leaders, allowing ongoing industrial disputes to play out without results. 

Keir Starmer looking for senior civil servant to aid possible Downing Street transition 

Labour leader Keir Starmer is looking to recruit a senior civil servant as a chief of staff to prepare him for potentially entering No 10 after the next election, the Times has reported. 

Starmer in Davos, January 2023

According to the newspaper, the former director of public prosecutions is looking for somebody with recent experience at high levels of government to help run the Leader of the Opposition’s office, and then lead transition planning ahead of a general election, expected to take place before the end of next year. 

Since last autumn, Labour has maintained a strong poll lead, suggesting they could win an election. 

Starmer’s last chief of staff, Sam White, departed in October. 
 

Boris Johnson calls for Ukraine to get "all the tools they need" after visit 

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has called on nations to support Ukraine with “all the tools they need” as he made a visit to the country.

Johnson was pictured in the town of Borodyanka this weekend, having travelled at the invitation of president Volodymyr Zelensky. 

In a statement, Johnson said: “The suffering of the people of Ukraine has gone on for too long.

“The only way to end this war is for Ukraine to win – and to win as fast as possible. This is the moment to double down and to give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job.

“The sooner Putin fails, the better for Ukraine and for the whole world.”

While he was prime minister, Johnson was accused of using calls or visits to Ukraine as a distraction for various crises in the UK. 

This trip comes as Johnson is facing more questions over his financial arrangements, as the Sunday Times reported that Richard Sharp was appointed BBC chairman after helping Johnson secure a loan while prime minister.  

 

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