Seatbeltgate, Loangate, Taxgate... how many scandals can Rishi Sunak's Tories rack up? – Vladimir McTavish
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Ah well, it seemed the right thing to say at the time. What he was actually telling us was that he intended to lead the country in a very dull way. Which, in fairness, was what was needed at the time.
After the scandal-wrecked Johnson years and six weeks of the kamikaze slapstick approach to government of Liz Truss, a bit of boring leadership was just what the doctor ordered. After having a human hand grenade in Number Ten who self-destructed after 46 days, it was a relief to have a PM with the air of an animated shop dummy. I’m reckoning the waxwork model of Sunak in Madame Tussauds probably has more charisma than the real guy.
The problem with dull and boring politicians is that their appeal is very short-lived. And things are now getting very interesting. Indeed, things are getting far too interesting from the PM’s point of view.
First off, the Prime Minister was issued with a fixed penalty notice for not wearing a seatbelt. This is his second such fine in the space of a year, after he was found to be guilty of breaking lockdown regulations at a Downing Street party. Far from being boring, Sunak is now the most convicted premier in recent history.
Unbelievably, he has actually been fined for breaking the law more often than Boris Johnson. After Partygate, Seatbeltgate was a remarkable own-goal. Rather than being caught on CCTV, he was actually being filmed on his own camera while making a statement to the nation about “Levelling Up”.
Seatbeltgate was swiftly followed Loangate, the scandal surrounding the £800,000 loan to Boris Johnson arranged by a man called Richard Marsh. In what was obviously a complete co-incidence the same Richard Marsh was appointed chair of the BBC a matter of days later, by the same Boris Johnson.
And finally, we come to Taxgate, the scandal surrounding the affairs of the exceedingly rich Tory party chairman, Nadhim Zahawi, which date back to his brief tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The guy who was supposed to be in charge of HMRC at the time actually had to pay £5 million to HMRC for not having properly filled in his tax returns for the same HMRC.
And this is the same Nadhim Zahawi who, a few years ago, was revealed during the Great MPs’ Expenses Scandal to be claiming the heating for his horses’ stables as a parliamentary expense. The calls for him to resign, or for Sunak to sack him, will grow louder over the coming days. At the moment, he clings on by his fingertips to a job he doesn’t really need. Let’s face it, a ministerial salary is small change compared to his vast fortune.
The irony in all of this is that he made his millions through founding the opinion poll company YouGov. I wonder if YouGov will be carrying out a poll over the weekend about whether he should get his P45. If they did, think we all know what the answer would be.