Zahawi: I’m sorry for not being more explicit over tax settlement declaration

Former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said he is “sorry” for not being “more explicit” in the ministerial declaration over his tax settlement, as he prepares to stand down from Parliament.

The outgoing MP for Stratford-on-Avon said the total payment he made to HMRC was “just shy of £5 million”.

Mr Zahawi added that he did not regret accusing journalists of smearing him when reports first emerged of the investigation into his tax affairs by HMRC.

Nadhim Zahawi tax settlement
Former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi says he paid a payment ‘just shy of £5 million’ to HMRC (Victoria Jones/PA)

In 2023, Rishi Sunak sacked Mr Zahawi as Tory Party chairman after an ethics inquiry found he had broken the Ministerial Code several times over his tax affairs.

The former education secretary told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “As I said in my retirement letter, my mistakes are my own.

“I’m sorry that when I had my settlement with HMRC two years ago, I should have probably been more explicit in the details in the ministerial declaration as to how the settlement was arrived at, and that’s my own mistake.”

Mr Zahawi, who served as chancellor for two months between July and September 2022, added: “HMRC found that it was non-deliberate, it was a careless mistake.

“They also accepted that I was not the beneficiary of an offshore structure or an offshore trust.

“But before the apportionment of shares in YouGov when it was first launched, I should have had more of the shares in my name, and as it’s been reported, the total payment was just shy of £5 million.”

Asked whether he regretted his comments accusing journalists of smearing him in their reporting, Mr Zahawi said: “No, because the smears were so wide – things like the National Crime Agency, which I’ve never ever had any dealings with or any investigations from.”

The outgoing MP said it was a “really tough choice” to stand down from Parliament at the next election.

Mr Zahawi said: “The heart said keep going and the head said it’s time to let a younger, more energetic person fight a pretty vital election for my party.

“It’s a wonderful seat – best seat in Parliament – and I think it’s deserving of a young, energetic Conservative – the list will be as long as my arm.”

Mr Zahawi revealed he was standing down from Parliament on Thursday in a resignation letter posted to X, formerly Twitter.

He said: “After 14 years in Parliament, and multiple roles in Cabinet and Government, I have come to the decision not to stand again at the next general election.”

Mr Zahawi said he would continue to serve his constituents until the next election and that “the Prime Minister, and the Conservative Party, will continue to have my unswerving support into and beyond the next general election”.

Mr Zahawi was the 65th Tory MP to announce they will not stand at the next election.