Sunak’s 100 days as PM ‘dogged by swamp of sleaze scandals’, say rivals
Rishi Sunak’s political rivals said the first 100 days of his reign as prime minister have been “dogged by a festering swamp of Tory sleaze scandals”.
The Prime Minister will mark his centenary of days in Downing Street on Thursday facing questions over his judgment as an investigation into one of his Cabinet ministers continues.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is subject to a probe, with Mr Sunak tasking lawyer Adam Tolley KC with looking into bullying allegations against the Deputy Prime Minister.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister sacked Nadhim Zahawi after ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus ruled the former Conservative Party chairman had broken the ministerial code several times by failing to declare that his tax affairs were being investigated by HMRC.
Earlier in Mr Sunak’s tenure, Sir Gavin Williamson was forced to quit as a Cabinet Office minister over a series of abusive messages to the chief whip.
Mhairi Black, the SNP deputy leader at Westminster, said the Tories were “lurching from one crisis to another”.
“Rishi Sunak’s first 100 days as Prime Minister have been dogged by a festering swamp of Tory sleaze scandals and staggering failure on the economy,” she said.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Rishi Sunak’s first 100 days in office have been a crushing disappointment, with a worsening cost-of-living emergency and NHS crisis.
“The cost of Conservative chaos is hitting families who are seeing their incomes squeezed while local health services are stretched to breaking point.
“The Conservative Party is still mired in sleaze and chaos, with no proper plan to fix the challenges facing the country. They either just don’t care or don’t get it.”
Mr Sunak is under pressure to explain what he knew about the bullying claims made about Mr Raab.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden, a close ally of the Prime Minister, told Sky News’ The Take With Sophy Ridge programme that Mr Sunak “wasn’t aware of formal allegations” levelled at the Justice Secretary before his appointment in the autumn.
The first 100 days of the Prime Minister’s tenure have seen the continuation of industrial action, with thousands of teachers walking out of classrooms in a pay dispute on Wednesday while rail workers and train drivers will picket again on Friday.
The UK economy has also failed to get out of the doldrums, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting the UK will be the only major economy to plunge into recession this year, with the economy set to contract by 0.3%.
One of Mr Sunak’s five priorities for 2023 is to halve inflation, a move ministers argue would ease the cost-of-living crisis and potentially make public worker pay settlements easier to come by.
Mr Dowden, asked whether the Prime Minister had been “side-tracked” by probes facing members of his Cabinet, told Sophy Ridge: “I don’t think the Prime Minister has been distracted.
“He’s set out a clear plan to halve inflation (and) reduce the deficit.”
In a statement released this week to mark both the third anniversary of Brexit and Mr Sunak’s 100 days in office, the Prime Minister said “momentum hasn’t slowed” under his leadership.
“We’re cutting red tape for businesses, levelling up through our freeports, and designing our own, fairer farming system to protect the British countryside,” he said.
“This is just the beginning of our plans to deliver on our five priorities, including growing the economy so we can create better paid jobs, and I’m determined to ensure the benefits of Brexit continue to empower communities and businesses right across the country.”
Meanwhile, the Green Party has used the 100-day marker to urge the Prime Minister to publish his tax return.
He has previously pledged to do so, with renewed calls coming after it emerged Mr Zahawi settled a bill of almost £5 million with HMRC, which included a penalty.
Green Party deputy leader Zack Polanski said: “It is vital this Government begins to rebuild the trust of the public and gets on with the important work it is currently neglecting.
“A small, but important, first step would be for Rishi Sunak, and all of his Cabinet, to publish their tax returns, in the interests of transparency and to be full and frank with the people they are supposed to be serving.”