A Sequel to Richi Sunak acting Dictatorially – Part One

Prime Minister Richi Sunak’s Cabinet prior to the sacking of Nadhim Zahawi and the Re-Shuffle announced on 7thFebruary

This HOT TOPIC is likely to run until the next General Election. U-turns and changes in Sunak’s government strategy are appearing daily. For this reason, we are splitting this topic into 3 parts.


Credit: Photo by Amer Ghazzal/Shutterstock (8154809a) Nadhim Zahawi – Iraqi born Conservative MP

Richi Sunak’s re-shuffle of his cabinet on 7th February was the direct result of Nadhim Zahawi being less than transparent over his tax affairs. Zahawi was fined for tax avoidance by the UK’s tax authorities, HMRC.

During the last few Questions to the Prime Minister, Sir Kier Starmer asked Sunak when he first knew about Zahawi’s tax avoidance and why he didn’t sack him sooner. He received no answers. The media knew, The voting public knew. But, apparently, the Prime Minister did not. Did senior civil servants warn him that Zahawi was breaking the ministerial code? There has been no response from Downing Street on that, but it is assumed Sunak was told but choose to ignore the warnings.

Rather than dismiss him from his position of Conservative Party chairman and Minister Without Portfolio, Sunak appointed Sir Laurie Magnus as an independent investigator. On reading Magnus’ report, the Prime Minister eventually dismissed him from all government positions on Sunday 29th January. The timing is significant. He did not want to give Starmer an opportunity to question him in the House of Commons before the next PMQ’s on Wednesday 8th February.

It is usual to invite a minister who is being dismissed to resign voluntarily. This face-saving approach was not given to Nadhim Zahawi, who has publicly commented on his harsh treatment.

He still remains a back bench Tory M.P. and promised loyalty to Sunak, but he remains very bitter at Zahawi was being disingenuous by claiming he was Zahawi Zahawi claims that he was unaware that he was being investigated by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, HMRC. As a former shrewd businessman who founded You Gov and became a billionaire, that does not ring true. And as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and effectively responsible for His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, it is inconceivable that he thought he was not being investigated.

Members of the Commons Select Committee had a difficult time understanding how Nadhim Zahawi could be “innocent” of a tax offence yet still escape a penalty. Although neither they nor Harra were allowed to discuss Zahawi’s affairs by name, Harra explained that HMRC were sympathetic to “careless and not deliberate errors”. Talking generally in respect of all taxpayers, he went on to say “there are no penalties for innocent errors in your tax affairs”.

The committee could not get Harra to agree that a taxpayer, given a significant penalty by the taxman as in Zahawi’s case, could be declared “innocent”. Harra is too much an establishment figure.

This is the formal and brusque letter that Sunak wrote to Nadhim Zahawi.

Dear Nadhim,

When I became Prime Minister last year, I pledged that the Government I lead would have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.

That is why, following new information which came to light in recent days regarding your personal financial arrangements and declarations, I asked Sir Laurie Magnus, the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, to fully investigate this matter.

You agreed and undertook to cooperate fully with the inquiry.

Following the completion of the Independent Adviser’s investigation – the findings of which he has shared with us both – it is clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code.

As a result, I have informed you of my decision to remove you from your position in His Majesty’s Government.

As you leave, you should be extremely proud of your wide-ranging achievements in government over the last five years.

In particular, your successful oversight of the COVID-19 vaccine procurement and deployment programme which ensured the United Kingdom was at the forefront of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Your role was critical to ensuring our country came through this crisis and saved many lives.

And as the Conservative Party Chairman, you have undertaken significant restructuring to Conservative Campaign Headquarters and readied us for important work in the coming months.

It is also with pride that I, and previous Prime Ministers, have been able to draw upon the services of a Kurdish-born Iraqi refugee at the highest levels of the U.K. Government.

That is something which people up and down this country have rightly valued.

I know I will be able to count on your support from the backbenches as you continue to passionately and determinedly serve your constituents of Stratford-on-Avon and represent the many issues and campaigns you are dedicated to.

Thank you for your service to this and previous governments.

Yours sincerely,
Rishi Sunak

Richi Sunak’s father, Yashir Murthy, and his wife Usha Murthy

Although Richi Sunak was born in England and is a British citizen, he held an American Green Card while in government office and had Non-Dom status. He has since given up his Non-Dom status and Green Card.

His father, Yashir, was a doctor in general practice with several surgeries. His mother Usha owned a chain of pharmacies. It is certainly true that, through the family’s good fortune, Sunak was given opportunities which are not open – then and now – to most ordinary people. And he appoints many wealthy people to Cabinet with similar backgrounds.

His wife, Akshata, had Non-Dom status for 15 years, claiming she was domiciled in India. That is not illegal. Non-Doms pay the UK treasury £30,000 per year which then allows them to pay no tax on income earned abroad where taxes are lower. Akshata’s principal dividend income come from the tech giant, Infosys, which her father, Narayana Murthy, founded and owns. It was £7 million in 2022. This saved her around £2.1 million. In late 2022, she withdrew her Non-Dom status. Her father is the 6th wealthiest man in India.

HMRC approve Non-Dom status on a case by case basis and depending who you are. The questions they usually ask are:

Where do you intend to be buried or cremated? Is your background British? Is your lifestyle more of your native country than of Britain? Where do you own property?

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, Sunak and his wife are listed as having wealth of £750 million in the UK alone. Akshata with £450m and Richi with £300m. Let’s look at Sunak’s cabinet re-shuffle.


Kay Burley gives Grant Shapps a hard time. (credit HuffPost)

Five senior cabinet members will be involved in making these changes.

He has set up a stronger department of Energy under Grant Shapps. As well as focusing on reducing energy costs to mitigate the high prices caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he will be responsible for energy security and achieving a net-zero target on emissions. An odd appointment as Shapps scrapped his Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2016!

No date is given for that. There is no mention of creating cost-effective on-land wind turbines. The ban on fracking will remain in place. Vital investment for gas storage is not on the cards. As a temporary measure, the government will allow the mining of fossil fuels until March 2023. Commentators and many politicians, therefore, believe he will not be able to achieve the planned objectives.

Michelle Donelan heads up the new Science and Innovative Technology department which will spend a forecast 20 billion on research and development. She has limited experience and a poor track record. She stayed in office as Education Secretary for just 36 hours!

Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch

An expanded department of Business and Trade will be run by Kemi Badenoch, a former leadership contender who was considered by commentators to be out of favour with Sunak. How wrong they were.

Culture, Media, and Sport goes to Lucy Frazer. She is a barrister and famous for warning Meghan Markle when her romance with Prince Harry was revealed.

“I remember saying to her, ‘When this goes public, it is not going to be easy. The UK media are notorious for doing whatever they can to get a story. They go through rubbish bins, they’ll try and break into accounts. They will do whatever they can to get an exclusive and make money.”

Greg Hands, a former whip and trade minister, is the new Chairman of the Conservative party and minister without portfolio, replacing Nadhim Zahawi who was fired 9 days ago. Hands is right-wing but nowhere near as extremist as his deputy, Lee Anderson. A high flyer who has held ministerial positions under 4 prime ministers, Hands is popular with Tory members. Although demoted by Teresa May, she later made him a minister. During his political career he has resigned twice on matters of principle. He initially voted to stay in the European Union but later changed his mind saying that “in the longer term” we would see the benefits of leaving. He was formerly a merchant banker, is part of the elite Oxbridge university set that is so prominent in Conservative governments, and is a Privy Counsellor.


Not all Tory back-benchers believe he has any hope of delivering on that. Political commentators point out that the government has had 12 years to make progress on these ideas but has failed. Inflation is already falling and likely to continue because people are not receiving wage and salary increases. Their only option is to cut back on spending. That in itself curbs inflation. The government can’t take credit for that. Lower fuel supply costs are forecast but effect will be cancelled when the government increases energy charges by 40% in April 2023.

Growing the economy needs a productive and well-paid workforce. That won’t happen when government is refusing to allow wage increases even though the claims are lower than actual and forecast inflation. It doesn’t help the government’s case when tax-payers see the gains the rich make through Non-Dom status loopholes and profiteering from the high prices charged by the energy companies.

The government is not reducing debt. It can’t. It has too many commitments: giving 10% increases to pensioners and those on benefit in April 2023, for example.

Over the last 12 years, the hospital service has suffered from cut-backs in staff numbers, low recruitment, and many leaving the profession. All this happened on the government’s watch, resources were simply not adequate. The new measures, like releasing some patients from hospital to be looked after at home, are to be applauded. But, it will take time to increase resources so that waiting times are reduced to acceptable levels. To keep to his objectives, Sunak will need to recruit more doctors, nurses, care workers, and ambulance drivers.

“Stopping the Boats”, as he calls it, seems a pipe dream given that numbers have risen to an all-time high. The latest figures released by the government show that on one day alone, 2 January 2023, 44 immigrants arrived in one boat and a further 80 in two boats were returned to Calais by the French border force. For the whole year 2022, 45,756 illegals had arrived in England – the highest since records began in 2018 – and 60% higher than in 2021.

Suella Braverman, who retains her post as Home Secretary following the re-shuffle, was mired in controversy when she sent confidential ministerial information via her private email to people not authorised to receive such information. After initially denying any breaches of security and the ministerial code, and after being challenged by civil servants, Braverman apologised and resigned. Six days later, Sunak re-appointed her and took no further action.

The hon. Lee Anderson MP, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party

A former coal miner who worked in the mines for 10 years, Lee Anderson started his political life in the Labour party. He was suspended after he had received a community protection order from the local council for obstructing entry to a travelling community’s campsite.

He defected to the Conservatives in March 2018 because he believed the Labour party had become “too hard left”. His controversial and out-spoken views have, however, not endeared him to many Conservative MPs. His appointment as Deputy Chairman shows that Sunak is stressing Anderson’s extreme right-wing credentials, in contrast to the less extreme views of his popular Chairman, Greg Hands.

Anderson supports the death penalty, saying to journalists “Capital punishment? 100% effective. Nobody has ever committed a killing after being executed”.

He claimed nurses should budget better and that there was no need for them to use food banks in hospitals.Nuisance tenants, Anderson said, should be evicted and forced to pick vegetables for 12 hours a day. He advocates cutting foreign aid by half and has been investigated for antisemitism.

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