Tories have 'run out of road' as Zahawi sacked over tax dispute, Plaid Cymru says

'In a democracy the way that politicians behave matters', says Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP

The Prime Minister's decision to sack Tory chairman Nadhim Zahawi over a "serious breach of the ministerial code" has come "way too late", Plaid Cymru's Westminster lead has said.

Rishi Sunak had ordered an investigation into Mr Zahawi following reports that he had paid a penalty as part of an estimated £4.8 million settlement dispute with HMRC.

It comes a day after Number 10 denied reports that the PM received informal advice in October that Nadhim Zahawi's tax affairs could damage the government's reputation.

"The public perception, and I really feel this, has shifted," Liz Saville Roberts MP said.

"There now is a feeling that the Tory party will do anything to hold onto power.

"Here we had somebody who was clearly operating without a moral compass and had been allowed to get away with it for way too long.

"In a democracy, the way that politicians behave matters. There is a moral purpose to government, and this government has run out of road."

Liz Saville Roberts MP said Mr Sunak's "dithering and delaying" shows his government "follows no moral compass".

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives defended Mr Sunak, saying he has shown "strong leadership" by acting on the findings of his independent adviser on ministers' interests Sir Laurie Magnus.

Andrew RT Davies MS said: "I think it's really important that rather than responding to Twitter and social media, you respond to the evidence that's put before you.

"From the evidence that I've seen this morning, and obviously that evidence has only emerged in the last couple of hours, it is clear the Prime Minister was left with no option.

"Let's also reflect on the fact that the Prime Minister instigated the investigation that looked into this, and once he was presented with the evidence acted positively to make sure that the situation was cleared up as quickly as possible."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ordered an investigation into Mr Zahawi by Sir Laurie Magnus, his independent adviser on ministers' interests. Credit: PA Images

In a letter to Nadhim Zahawi, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the findings of his independent adviser on ministers' interests Sir Laurie Magnus made it "clear that there has been a serious breach of the ministerial code".

The letter said: "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 co-operate 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."

Nadhim Zahawi has told the Prime Minister he can be "assured of my support from the backbenches in the coming years", in a letter to Rishi Sunak following his sacking.

Mr Zahawi did not explicitly mention the findings of the ethics inquiry into his tax affairs but he tells Mr Sunak that he is concerned "about the conduct from some of the fourth estate in recent weeks", in a reference to the media.

He said: "It has been, after being blessed with my loving family, the privilege of my life to serve in successive governments and make what I believe to have been a tangible difference to the country I love."

In comments that appear to indicate that the former chancellor holds out little prospect of returning to office in the years to come, he said: "You can be assured of my support from the backbenches in the coming years. Your five priorities are the right priorities, and I will do whatever I can to help you deliver them."

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