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'Hideaway Day': UK Cabinet Huddles Amid Tax Scandal

© AP Photo / Alastair Grant / Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi leaves the Conservative Party head office in Westminster, central LondonConservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi leaves the Conservative Party head office in Westminster, central London
Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi leaves the Conservative Party head office in Westminster, central London - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.01.2023
PM Rishi Sunak ordered a probe into Tory Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi earlier this week, after it emerged he had been fined for late payment of millions in tax on the transfer of shares in his polling firm YouGov to an offshore trust controlled by his parents.
The British Cabinet has headed to the prime minister's country retreat amid the furore over the Tory chairman's tax affairs. One opposition MP dubbed the meeting headed by PM Rishi Sunak at Chequers in Buckinghamshire a "hideaway day."
Sunak ordered an investigation into whether Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi, the former chancellor of the exchequer and education secretary, broke the ministerial code of conduct.
It emerged late last week that Zahawi had been forced to hand over a reported £4.8 million to His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in summer 2022, including a 30 percent fine for late payment of tax. That ended a lengthy dispute with the taxman over the transfer of a 42.5 percent share in YouGov, the polling firm Zahawi co-founded in 2000, to an offshore trust in Gibraltar controlled by his parents.

“While Rishi Sunak and his scandal-hit ministers hold a ‘hideaway’ day at Chequers, the rest of the country is suffering from this endless Conservative chaos,” MP Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, the fourth-largest party in Parliament, said.

“The NHS is in crisis and people are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, but Conservative ministers are too busy fighting to save their own careers," Cooper added.
Opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer took the opportunity to attack Sunak over the affair at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
"We all know why the prime minister was reluctant to ask his party chair questions about family finances and tax avoidance," Starmer said. "But his failure to sack him when the whole country can see what's going on shows how hopelessly weak he is — a prime minister overseeing chaos, overwhelmed at every turn."
Nadhim Zahawi  - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.01.2023
UK PM Sunak Orders Probe Into Tory Party Chairman Zahawi Over Tax Dispute
Starmer's official opposition is in lock-step with the Tories on many key policy issues, including military support for Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia that have fuelled the cost-of-living crisis.
Labour has also accepted Brexit, reversing Starmer's 2019 pledge to hold a vote on reversing the 2016 referendum decision to leave the European Union, and has refused to commit to raiding public sector pay or to support strikes by unions affiliated to the party.
Despite opposition allegations of bias towards the Conservatives, YouGov has gained a reputation as the UK's most reliable pollster — correctly predicting the Tory landslide at the last general election in December 2019 when others forecast a far closer result.
The British cabinet occasionally meets at Chequers as an alternative to the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street. The stately home is also used by prime ministers for social gatherings and to host foreign leaders.
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