How Stratford-Upon-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi pushed Boris Johnson into quitting as party leader

Nadhim Zahawi Credit: PA Images

In less than 48 hours since he was appointed chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi has written a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him 'to go now'.

The 55-year-old was given the role of chancellor after Rishi Sunak resigned from the role on Tuesday evening saying that "the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously."

In a letter to the Prime Minister this morning Mr Zahawi wrote: "When asked to become chancellor, I did so out of loyalty. Not to a man, but loyalty to this country and all it has given me.

"Yesterday I made clear to the Prime Minister alongside my colleagues in No 10 that there was only one direction where this was going and that he should leave with dignity.

"Out of respect, and in the hopes that he would listen to an old friend of 30 years, I kept this counsel private.

"I am heartbroken that he hasn’t listened and is now undermining the incredible achievements of this government.

"The country deserves a government that is not only stable, but which acts with integrity.

"Prime Minister, you know in your heart what the right thing to do is, and go now."

Who is Nadhim Zahawi?

  • Nadhim Zahawi was born in Baghdad to Kurdish parents in 1967. Under threat of persecution from Saddam Hussein’s regime, his family immigrated to the UK when he was nine.

  • He studied Chemical Engineering at University College London.

  • In 2000, he founded YouGov, a leading market research company from a garden shed, it now employs over 400 people on three continents.

  • He was named Entrepreneur of the year by Ernst & Young in 2008.

  • Nadhim Zahawi is married to his wife Lana and has three children.

Mr Zahawi leaving No 10 as Chancellor on Tuesday evening Credit: PA Images

What is Nadhim Zahawi's political background?

  • The MP for Stratford-upon-Avon had been serving as Education Secretary when he was appointed chancellor, and was previously responsible for the rollout of Covid vaccines across the UK.

  • In 2010, he ran for election as Member of Parliament for Stratford-on-Avon. He was elected to the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, which scrutinises the impact of government policy on business.  

  • In 2013, he was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Policy Board with special responsibility for business and the economy.

  • In June 2014, he was elected to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which examines the Government's foreign policy. He was re-elected to this select committee in 2015.

  • In November of 2015, Nadhim was appointed by David Cameron as the Prime Minister’s Apprenticeship Adviser.

  • In January 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Nadhim Zahawi as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education.

  • In July 2019, he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry.

  • He was appointed Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment in November 2020.

  • In September 2021, he was appointed Secretary of State for Education.

On Wednesday morning, just 24 hours before he called for the Prime Minister to go, Mr Zahawi did his first interview as chancellor, where he said: "The Prime Minister apologised and explained he made a mistake appointing Chris Pincher to the role of deputy chief, I think that's the right thing to do and good leadership."

In his first interview as chancellor on Wednesday morning, Nadhim Zahawi said 'we need to unite and deliver'.

Why are MPs resigning and withdrawing support?

Mr Sunak and Mr Javid stepped down within minutes of each other on Tuesday.

It came just hours after Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson was informed that former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher had been investigated over his conduct when he was a Foreign Office minister - following days of denials from Downing Street that the PM knew.

Their letters triggered a series of resignations from other ministers on Tuesday evening and more followed on Wednesday morning.