IF there is one thing that the Tories don’t need right now, it’s another scandal.
And unfortunately for the Government, the sorry saga over Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs could not have come at a worse time.
5Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs have given the Tories a big problem they do not needCredit: ReutersIt gives the impression the Tories are falling apart.
And the mess leaves our Prime Minister — at heart an optimistic technocrat — looking more than a little out of his depth.
Ever since this paper revealed that the Conservative party chairman had settled a multi-million pound tax bill, there has rightly been a national outcry.
We now know Mr Zahawi paid a huge penalty to HMRC as part of an estimated £5million settlement while he was still Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Millions of ordinary taxpayers are demanding his head — and they have a very good point.
Even the HMRC chief executive asserted that there are “no penalties for innocent errors” in people’s tax affairs.
But amid the calls for the party chairman to resign, Rishi Sunak has employed his independent ethics adviser to investigate whether Zahawi’s tax affairs complied with the ministerial code.
Yet the longer this rumbles on, the more awkward things get for Rishi.
His premiership has already been deemed weak and ineffective, with various U-turns and tax hikes further dampening his appeal.
It is also easy to forget that the Conservative Party is still deeply divided — with the old scars left by Brexit and the movement to “bring back Boris” still rearing its head.
And it comes amid the resignations of disgraced MPs, plus accusations of bullying, sketchy PPE contracts, lockdown parties and sex abuse.
The sleaze keeps on piling on.
It doesn’t help Rishi that he is fabulously wealthy himself and has had to deal with intense scrutiny over his wife’s former non-dom tax status.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with being rich.
In fact, I remember a time in Britain when people used to aspire to wealth.
However, in politics, a balance must be struck.
Being deemed “out of touch” with ordinary Brits is counter-productive and impractical.
And it is this sentiment that is currently plaguing the Conservative leadership.
In his role as party chairman, Mr Zahawi is set to lead the Tories into the next crucial elections in May.
But how does he expect to do so with these questions about his tax affairs hanging over him?
Come the General Election, Sunak must retain the support of the “Red Wall” to have any hope of retaining the party’s Commons majority.
5Rishi Sunak has employed his independent ethics adviser to investigate ZahawiCredit: The Mega AgencyYet when people are struggling with the current cost-of-living crisis, the idea of a government minister owing £5million in taxes is unfathomable.
In another industry, a figure such as Zahawi would be championed.
A Middle Eastern immigrant coming to the UK and becoming wildly successful?
It’s the stuff of Anglo-American exceptionalism.
But unfortunately for Mr Zahawi, he has chosen a political career.
And complacency in politics is the kiss of death.
Striking the right note with the public is the most important thing moving forward.
Rishi Sunak must bear that in mind if he wants to stand a chance at the next General Election.
Is work worth extra effort?URGING the economically inactive back to work, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insisted: “Britain needs you.
He followed up his rallying speech this week with an interview in which he addressed the early retirees who dropped out of the workforce during Covid.
Mr Hunt stressed: “You can have an enormously rich life by continuing to make a contribution to the economy.”
And he quipped: “It doesn’t just have to be about going to the golf course.”
I’m sure everyone can understand why people who can afford it choose to retire early rather than slave away at work.
If there is one thing the pandemic gave us, it’s perspective.
There is more to life than work.
The Chancellor has an interesting challenge trying to coax such people back in.
Options on the table are said to include tax breaks for over-50s and a boost to pension pots.
The amount of tax-free pension savings could be increased to encourage over-50s back to work.
In his words, he will look at conditions that will make returning to work “worth their while”.
Star Beys the price with Dubai backlash
HAVE you ever wondered what the going rate is to abandon one’s principles?
Well, going by the actions of LGBT campaigner Beyonce, it’s around £20million – for performing at a hotel opening in Dubai, a country known for its less-than-stellar track record on gay rights.
5Beyonce’s decision to perform a lucrative gig in Dubai has been questionedCredit: GettyFor most of us, that is not a sum any sane person would turn down.
However, for Mrs Knowles-Carter, whose net worth exceeds £400million, that money would not have made much of a difference to her life.
Turning it down would have saved her the backlash she received over the gig.
So is Beyonce, right, a hypocrite for performing in Dubai? Maybe.
But the bigger issue here is the fact that many celebrities class themselves as bastions of pious virtue and morality while looking down on the rest of the common people.
Less virtue-signalling, more entertaining please.
Isle of frights
5ITV’s planned Love Island spin-off may struggle to recapture it’s successCredit: RexTIRED, moany and mature – welcome to middle-aged Love Island.
Because nothing says Casa Amor like 40-year-olds talking about wine and divorce.
The Romance Retreat, ITV’s new spin on the dating format, will focus on finding love for middle-aged parents in a lavish villa abroad.
This is “diversity TV” on steroids.
For all of the criticism that Love Island gets, it’s precisely what its young audience wants – sun-kissed, bikini-clad twentysomethings with barely two brain cells to rub together.
German gas tank dilemmaGERMAN Chancellor Olaf Scholz bowed to international pressure from allies this week to supply the Ukrainian army with tanks in a bid to help with the ongoing war against Russia.
Not only has Scholz’s government decided to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but it is also allowing other countries, such as Poland, to do the same, as it holds the export licences.
But why the initial dithering from Berlin?
It is clear that Mr Scholz was reluctant to approve the move, with many critics unhappy that Germany could be drawn deeper into direct conflict with Vladimir Putin.
Even the German public is split on this decision, with opinion polls showing that almost half of Germans disapprove of the plan.
It might seem difficult to fathom, but German industry is struggling to secure desperately needed natural gas supplies.
So given the country’s former ill-fated reliance on cheap gas, is it any wonder Mr Scholz fears further angering the Russian bear?
THIS week, Ferrari announced a patent for boosting the performance sounds of their electric cars.
And if you’re a sports car enthusiast, it is the saddest thing you will ever read.
5Ferrari is seeking to artificially boost the sound of their carsCredit: GettyThe luxury brand’s first electric vehicle will reportedly have built-in speakers that imitate the famous Ferrari roar.
This is catfishing for cars. It is a fraud in every sense of the word.
Who spends a fortune on a Ferrari to have its sexy throttle pumped out from a “sound reproduction device”?
The outrage! It has the same appeal as vegans pretending their version of meat is anything like the real thing.
The only good news is that Ferrari is patenting this abomination.
Hopefully, other brands will think twice before copying it.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk