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Nadhim Zahawi (Kurdish: نادهیم زاهاوزاهاوی‎; born 2 June 1967) is a British-Iraqi Kurdish Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010, after the retirement of previous Conservative MP John Maples. Since 26 July 2019 he has been Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry.

Nadhim Zahawi

Official portrait of Nadhim Zahawi crop 2.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry
Assumed office
26 July 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAndrew Stephenson
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
In office
9 January 2018 – 25 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byRobert Goodwill
Succeeded byKemi Badenoch
Member of Parliament
for Stratford-on-Avon
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byJohn Maples
Majority20,958 (39.9%)
Personal details
Born (1967-06-02) 2 June 1967 (age 52)
Baghdad, Iraq
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Lana Zahawi
Children2 Sons 1 Daughter
ParentsHareth Zahawi[1][dead link]
Alma materUniversity College London

He is also the co-founder of the international Internet-based market research firm YouGov of which he was Chief Executive until February 2010 and is currently Chief Strategy Officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum. His various roles have resulted in him being the 2nd highest earning MP in the UK.[2]


Early life and careerEdit

Zahawi was born on 2 June 1967 in Baghdad, to Kurdish parents.[3] He fled aged nine years old with his family to the UK from Iraq in 1976, during Saddam Hussein's early years in power.[4]

Zahawi was privately educated at Ibstock Place School and at King's College School, at the time a boys-only independent school in Wimbledon, London, followed by University College London, where he studied Chemical Engineering, receiving a BSc.[5]

Co-Founder of YouGovEdit

Following a career as European Marketing Director for Smith & Brooks Ltd, Nadhim Zahawi co-founded YouGov with Stephan Shakespeare, a former spokesperson for Jeffrey Archer. Zahawi was YouGov's CEO from 2005 to 2010.[3]

Political careerEdit

In 1991, Zahawi and fellow Kurd Broosk Saib were aides to Jeffrey Archer during Archer's controversial "Simple Truth" campaign to help Kurdish victims of the Gulf War. Zahawi and Saib were nicknamed "Lemon kurd" and "Bean kurd" by Archer.[6] In 1994 Archer helped campaign for Zahawi for a seat on Wandsworth council. Zahawi also ran Archer's unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of London in 1998.[7]

Zahawi was elected as a Conservative councillor in Putney[8] in the London Borough of Wandsworth, serving three terms from 1994 to 2006, and stood as a parliamentary candidate at Erith and Thamesmead in 1997, coming second to Labour.[9]

In 2010 Zahawi was selected by the local Conservative association for Stratford-on-Avon as a prospective parliamentary candidate in the 2010 general election.[10] He was subsequently re-elected in 2015 and 2017.[10]

In October 2013, he became a member of the Number 10 Policy Unit.[11] Later in October, Zahawi and fellow member of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee interviewed Lazard, the Government's independent adviser on the sale of Royal Mail. Shares quickly rose to £5 following flotation at £3.30 and the Financial Times claimed that two investment banks had warned that it was underpriced.[12] However Zahawi said the government had got its sums right and had to be sure that the remaining 40% of shares could be sold above the flotation price in future. When it was put to him that he might consider selling 60% of shareholdings in his own companies at a large discount, so that he could later sell the other 40% at the market rate, he replied "I'm afraid that this method only works when disposing of public assets. It would be ridiculous to expect any individual, no matter how outrageously wealthy they are, to suffer such a loss".[12]

Zahawi is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan Region in Iraq,[13] which receives secretarial support from Gulf Keystone Petroleum International, an oil company of which Zahawi is Chief Strategy Officer.[14] Concerns have been raised about how MPs' independence might be compromised by such links between APPGs and private companies, and specifically about how Zahawi's connections with the oil industry affect his role as MP.[15][16][17][18] Zahawi has been co-chair or vice-chair of this APPG since it was established in 2008/9, alongside other MPs including Meg Munn and Jason McCartney.

In January 2016 and as one of 72 MPs who were themselves landlords who derived an income from a property, Zahawai voted down an amendment in Parliament requiring rental homes be "fit for human habitation".[19]

He has backed Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, arguing that the European Union will never be willing to change its rules and that the United Kingdom should take back control over a variety of issues.[20][21]

Following the 2018 Cabinet reshuffle, Zahawi was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education. Since 26 July 2019 he has been Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry.


Zahawi claimed for 2012/13 a total of £170,234 in expenses, ranking him the 130th highest out of 650 MPs.[22] He explained in his local newspaper Stratford Herald that the "vast bulk" of his expenses was on staffing costs.[23]

In November 2013 Zahawi "apologised unreservedly" after The Sunday Mirror reported that he had claimed £5,822 expenses for electricity for his riding school stables and a yard manager's mobile home.[24] Zahawi said the mistake arose because he received a single bill covering both a meter in the stables and one in his house. He would repay the money though the actual overcharge was £4,000.[25] An article in The Independent also drew attention to the number of legitimate but "trivial" items on Zahawi's expenses.[26]

Registered interestsEdit

Zahawi's declarations in the "Register of Members' Interests" include (as of November 2015)[14] the following employment and earnings: non-exec director of the recruitment company SThree (monthly salary £3333) and Chief Strategy Officer of Gulf Keystone Ltd, an Iraqi oil company (monthly salary of £20,125). He is also a 50% shareholder of Zahawi and Zahawi Ltd., and holds shares in SThree and YouGov. In the Register of Members' Interests of 9 February 2015,[27] he also declared shares in Genel Energy plc, an Anglo-Turkish exploration and production company within the oil and gas industry. His declared property interests are: "Residential property and 31 acres of land in Warwickshire, with stables run as a livery yard by Zahawi and Zahawi Ltd; residential buy-to-let property in London, divided into three flats; a house in London (Putney), rented out from 30 June 2015; and commercial property in Surrey, purchased on 29 September 2015 and rented out through Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd".

Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd is a business consultancy company registered with Companies House as "other business support service activities", with its registered address at the same Warwickshire stables.[28] Clients of Zahawi include the research and consulting firm YouGov plc, of which he was founder and continues to be a registered shareholder. A former client, Afren Plc, an "independent exploration and production company in the oil and gas industry"; went bust in 2015.

The Guardian reported in early 2017 that Zahawi had spent £25m buying property around London, for both personal and commercial use.[29] Zahawi has said in response that "My first priority, before anything else, is my constituency work and I would never, or have never, let anything get in the way of this."[29]

Constituency homeEdit

In November 2013 it was reported by the Birmingham Mail newspaper that in May 2011 (one year after he became an MP) Nadhim Zahawi used as a mortgage lender a company called Berkford Investments Limited, which was based in the low-tax British overseas territory of Gibraltar, to finance the purchase of his constituency home 'Oakland' riding stables estate (worth at the time £875,000) in Upper Tysoe, near Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire.[30]

Berkford Investments Limited is managed by T&T Management Services Limited, which advertises its wealth management services as 'setting up and administering trusts to help the wealthy minimise or avoid property taxes'. Zahawi responded to the news story by saying: "I did pay stamp duty on my property in Tysoe and have always paid stamp duty on my property purchases. I fully support the 2012 budget and all budgets of this government. I purchased my property in Tysoe with a mortgage from a Gibraltar company. This fact and the details involved are fully declared on the Land Registry and to suggest it is in any way hidden would be factually incorrect. Equally, to suggest that in any way I am using offshore to reduce my tax burden is entirely incorrect."[30]

Personal lifeEdit

A keen rider and show jumper, Zahawi and his wife Lana run a riding school.[31] Zahawi won 'craziest parking ticket of the year' in 2004 for having got a ticket while he was in an ambulance.[32] In January 2011, Zahawi appeared in the Commons debate discussing the end of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme wearing a musical tie which proceeded to play during his contribution. The Deputy Speaker advised him to be more select when choosing ties to avoid a musical accompaniment to debate in the chamber.[33]

US travel banEdit

Following US President Trump's executive order that banned travellers from a number of Middle Eastern states, Zahawi reported that he was unable to enter the United States, despite being a British citizen, as he was born in Baghdad, Iraq.[34] The ban also affected his wife.[34] According to a media report, this prevented Zahawi from visiting his children attending college in the US.[35]

Zahawi spoke out against the policy and urged that the UK should not turn a blind eye towards to it.[35] He also argued that the travel ban, and Prime Minister Theresa May's failure to condemn it, only fuelled support for Daesh in Iraq and other countries.[35]

Attendance at a Presidents Club charity dinnerEdit

In late January 2018, it was reported in the media that Zahawi was one of the attendees at a men-only dinner event organised by the Presidents Club at the Dorchester Hotel in London.[36] Media reports have alleged that female hostesses were subjected to sexual harassment and incidents of groping and inappropriate touch.[37] Following the revelations of his attendance at the event, Zahawi posted a Tweet condemning such behaviour and stated that he felt uncomfortable at what he saw happening. He has also stated that he will never attend such a men-only event again.[38] In response, opposition politicians, including the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner, called for Zahawi to step down from his position as Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Education as he did not report his concerns about unlawful behaviour at the event to the police and because he had attended the event before on several occasions.[39][40]


  1. ^ "Iraq Projects Business Development : Alzahawi Family". Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  2. ^ "The richest MPs in Britain based on income". Business Insider. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b "About Nadhim". Zahawi. 6 May 2010. Archived from the original on 26 April 2010.
  4. ^ Merrick, Jane (27 September 2014). "Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10". The Independent. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ "YouGov pollsters survey future". The Times. London. 28 October 2007.
  6. ^ Sengupta, Kim (5 August 2001). "Jeffrey Archer said he raised £57m. But the Kurds say they got only £250,000". The Independent.
  7. ^ "In the City". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd (1265): 8. 25 June 2010.
  8. ^ "Nadhim Zahawi". Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Tories' secret plan to kill off party dinosaurs". London: Daily Mail. 19 February 2010.
  10. ^ a b Smith, Chris (28 April 2017). "Tories re-select all three south Warwickshire candidates - Stratford Herald". Stratford Herald. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  11. ^ Isabel Hardman (15 October 2013). "New Number 10 policy board announced". The Spectator. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Royal Mail 'underpriced, two investment banks warned'". BBC news. 19 October 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  13. ^ "House of Commons – Register of All-Party Groups as at 30 July 2015 : Kurdistan Region in Iraq". Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  14. ^ a b "TheyWorkForYou". Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Kurdistan delegation led by millionaire Tory raises questions". The Independent. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Tory MP climbs the greasy pole with £20,000 a month oil gig – Spectator Blogs". Spectator Blogs. Archived from the original on 14 November 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Corporate funding of all‑party groups 'next big scandal' after huge". The Independent. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Slick work brings in the cash for Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi – Diary". The Independent. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  19. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Nadhim Zahawi MP: Why I have decided to vote for Britain to leave the EU | Conservative Home". Conservative Home. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  21. ^ "We All Know What Brexit Means". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  22. ^ Wilson, Matt (17 September 2013). "Stratford MP explains his £170,000 expenses". Stratford Herald. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  23. ^ Zahawi, Nadhim (7 November 2013). "Exclusive: Nadhim Zahawi - my parliamentary expenses explained". Stratford Herald. Archived from the original on 29 January 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Local CAB drops MP as meeting chair after expenses scandal". Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Stratford on Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi repays expenses". BBC news. 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  26. ^ Adam Withnall (11 November 2013). "Every little helps Nadhim Zahawi: MP who claimed most on energy bills also received 31p for paperclips and 47p for horse polish". The Independent. London. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  27. ^ "House of Commons – The Register of Members' Financial Interests (9th February 2015) – Part 1: ZAHAWI, Nadhim". Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  28. ^ "ZAHAWI & ZAHAWI LTD – Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  29. ^ a b Watt, Holly (3 January 2017). "Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi owns property worth more than £25m". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  30. ^ a b Reid, Les (23 November 2013). "Warwickshire Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi used firm in tax haven to buy his £1m home". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  31. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (10 November 2013). "Millionaire Tory MP claimed expenses to heat stables". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  32. ^ Essen, Yvette (5 June 2006). "Market profile: Nadhim Zahawi". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  33. ^ "MP's tie too loud for Parliament". ITN video clip. 20 January 2011.
  34. ^ a b "Tory MP reveals he is banned from US under Trump's Muslim ban". The Independent. 28 January 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  35. ^ a b c "Donald Trump's Muslim ban prevents Iraqi-born British MP from visiting his children". The Independent. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  36. ^ Davies, Rob; Weaver, Matthew; Stewart, Heather (24 January 2018). "Presidents Club to close down after claims of harassment at 'hostess' gala". the Guardian.
  37. ^ Marriage, Madison (23 January 2018). "Men Only: Inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses are put on show". Financial Times.
  38. ^ "Nadhim Zahawi on Twitter".
  39. ^ "Scandal-hit dinner organiser quits post". 30 April 2018 – via
  40. ^ "Pressure mounting on children's minister over attendance at men-only dinner - Tes News".

External linksEdit