Nadhim Zahawi
appointed UK’s
new Chancellor in
cabinet reshuffling

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LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Nadhim Zahawi as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer late Tuesday after the resignation of Rishi Sunak.

Chris Pincher MP

Zahawi, who was the education secretary, was named by Johnson as the chief executive of the treasury. Johnson earlier appointed Steve Barclay as the new health secretary after Sajid Javid resigned from that position.

Sunak and Javid resigned from the government Tuesday evening, minutes apart from each other. In the forced reshuffle, Michelle Donelan has been named the new education secretary, replacing Zahawi.

The backdrop to the two high-profile resignations came after a scandal over Chris Pincher, a government lawmaker who resigned as the deputy chief whip last week after allegations about an incident that occurred at a private members’ club.

Downing Street initially said that Johnson was unaware of previous specific allegations against Pincher, but it later emerged that he was in fact informed when he was foreign minister in 2019 of previous instances of alleged misconduct on Pincher’s part.

Just before the resignations, Johnson apologized for appointing Pincher as the deputy chief whip.

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim 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 9. He grew up in Sussex and was educated at King’s College School in West London and University College London where he studied Chemical Engineering.    

Nadhim Zahawi

In 2000 he founded YouGov, a leading market research company which has since become famous for the accuracy of its political polling. Having started life in an office in Nadhim’s garden shed, YouGov now employs over 400 people on three continents. He floated the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2005 and was named Entrepreneur of the year by Ernst & Young in 2008.

In January 2018 Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Nadhim 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 Nadhim was appointed Secretary of State for Education. In July 2022 the Prime Minister appointed Nadhim as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Since being elected Nadhim has campaigned hard on a range of issues: from fighting inappropriate development in the constituency, to reforming welfare, developing better traffic management in Stratford, improving the quality and availability of non-university higher education, and most recently opposing changes to services at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury used by many constituents. Nadhim is married to Lana and has three children.  

Resignation

It may be recalled thatthe chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid resigned from government on Monday, 5th July, saying they no longer have confidence in Boris Johnson to lead the country.

PM Boris Johnson

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the public expected government to be conducted “properly, competently and seriously”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid echoed this, saying the government was not “acting in the national interest”. The resignations came minutes after the PM apologised for appointing MP Chris Pincher to a government role.

According to a BBC report, Mr Johnson admitted he had made a “bad mistake” in appointing Mr Pincher to the role of deputy chief whip earlier this year, despite being told about earlier allegations about the MP’s conduct. His handling of the row has come in for fierce criticism from the opposition and some of his own MPs.

But the BBC understands Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and other cabinet ministers are backing the prime minister as he assesses the scale of the rebellion against his leadership.

Asked if that was an error to appoint Mr Pincher, Mr Johnson said: “I think it was a mistake and I apologise for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.

Rishi Sunak

“I apologise to everybody who has been badly affected by it.”

The resignations of two senior cabinet ministers plunge Mr Johnson into a fresh leadership crisis weeks after he survived a no-confidence vote.

Mr Johnson won the backing of a majority of Tory MPs in the vote despite a significant revolt against his leadership.

The PM won 59% of the vote, meaning he is now immune from a Conservative leadership challenge until June next year under party rules.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said cabinet ministers should act in the national interest to remove Mr Johnson from office, urging them to resign, or force him to do so.

Sajid Javid

“They know what he’s like,” Sir Keir said. “He’s said that he’s psychologically incapable of changing, and therefore they have to do what’s in the national interest and remove him.”

Mr Johnson’s government has been dogged by a series of controversies since the Conservatives won a landslide election victory in 2019.

Discontent among Tory MPs has grown since a highly critical report into lockdown parties in and near Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic was published earlier this year.

The report laid bare the extent of Covid rule-breaking in Number 10, including at a birthday party Mr Johnson was fined by the police for attending in June 2020.

The fine meant Mr Johnson became the UK’s first serving prime minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law.

Some Tory MPs have also expressed dissent over tax rises, the government’s response to rising living costs and its policy direction.