United Kingdom

PM takes senior ministers to Chequers while Nadhim Zahawi tax row rumbles on

Rishi Sunak (left) and Nadhim Zahawi pictured last year (Picture: Simone Dawson/No.10)

Rishi Sunak took his senior ministers on an awayday yesterday – as Britain’s top taxman entered the row over his embattled party chairman.

The prime minister and his cabinet were at Chequers with Mr Zahawi under investigation over whether he should have revealed receiving a tax penalty thought to be about £5million.

Back at Westminster, HMRC head Jim Harra was quizzed about the row by a committee of MPs and told them: ‘There are no penalties for innocent errors in your tax affairs.’

Cabinet minister Mr Zahawi has said he made a ‘careless and not deliberate error’ when declaring tax on an estimated £27million windfall from the sale of shares in polling firm YouGov.

Mr Harra said ‘carelessness’ was a concept in tax law but added: ‘If your error was as a result of carelessness, then legislation says that a penalty could apply in those circumstances.’

Mr Zahawi will allow HMRC to share his tax records with Sir Laurie Magnus, the PM’s adviser on ministerial interests, sources close to him said. No.10 has said Mr Sunak did not know of the tax penalty when he made Mr Zahawi chairman and minister without portfolio.

Election guru Isaac Levido was expected to be at Chequers to give the cabinet a presentation on the Tories’ prospects at the next election.

But Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper accused Mr Sunak of arranging ‘a hideaway day’.

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