Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi (Arabic: ناظم الزهاوي, romanizedNāẓim az-Zahāwī; Kurdish: نەدیم زەهاوی, romanized: Nedîm Zehawî) is an Iraqi-born British politician serving as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for Intergovernmental Relations and Minister for Equalities since 2022.[2] A member of the Conservative Party, he has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010. He previously served in the Second Johnson ministry as Vaccines Minister from 2020 to 2021, Secretary of State for Education from 2021 to 2022 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from July to September 2022.[3]

Nadhim Zahawi
Official portrait of Nadhim Zahawi MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2020
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Assumed office
6 September 2022
Prime MinisterLiz Truss
Preceded byKit Malthouse
Minister for Intergovernmental Relations
Assumed office
6 September 2022
Prime MinisterLiz Truss
Preceded byMichael Gove
Minister for Equalities
Assumed office
6 September 2022
Prime MinisterLiz Truss
Preceded byLiz Truss[a]
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
5 July 2022 – 6 September 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byRishi Sunak
Succeeded byKwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Education
In office
15 September 2021 – 5 July 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byGavin Williamson
Succeeded byMichelle Donelan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment
In office
28 November 2020 – 15 September 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMaggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry
In office
26 July 2019 – 15 September 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAndrew Stephenson
Succeeded byLee Rowley
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
Majority19,972 (36.3%)
Personal details
BornBaghdad, Iraqi Republic
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Spouse
Lana Saib
(m. 2004)
[1]
Children3
EducationHolland Park School
Ibstock Place School
King's College School
Alma materUniversity College London
Occupation
  • Politician
  • businessman
ProfessionChemical engineer
Signature
Websitewww.zahawi.com Edit this at Wikidata

Born in Baghdad to a Kurdish family, Zahawi was co-founder of international Internet-based market research firm YouGov of which he was chief executive until February 2010. A chemical engineer in his earlier career, he was chief strategy officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum until January 2018. After the retirement of previous Conservative MP John Maples, he was elected for Stratford-upon-Avon at the 2010 general election.

Zahawi joined Theresa May's government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families in the 2018 reshuffle. Following Boris Johnson's appointment as Prime Minister, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry, and in 2020 he was given additional responsibility for the COVID-19 vaccination programme as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment. In the 2021 cabinet reshuffle he was promoted to Johnson's cabinet as Secretary of State for Education. On 5 July 2022, he became the Chancellor of the Exchequer after the resignation of Rishi Sunak. Less than 48 hours later, Zahawi withdrew his support for Johnson and publicly called on him to resign, which Johnson did shortly afterwards.[4] Zahawi was a candidate to succeed Johnson in the Conservative Party leadership election, but was eliminated from the ballot after the first round of voting. He subsequently supported Liz Truss’s bid to become Conservative leader. Following Truss's appointment as Prime Minister, she appointed Zahawi as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 6 September 2022.

Early life and educationEdit

Zahawi was born into a Kurdish family in Baghdad, Iraq.[5][6] When he was eleven years old, during Saddam Hussein's early years in power, he and his family fled to the UK.[7] His father, Hareth, is a businessman and a director of Balshore Investments.[8] His grandfather Nadhem Abdel-Jalil al-Zahawi was the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq from 1959 to 1960 and Minister of trade from 1960 to 1963.[9] Zahawi was educated at Holland Park School,[1][10] before moving to Ibstock Place School and then at King's College School, an independent school in Wimbledon, London, followed by University College London, where he studied chemical engineering, earning a bachelor's degree.[1]

CareerEdit

YouGovEdit

Following a career as European Marketing Director for Smith & Brooks Ltd, Zahawi co-founded YouGov in 2000 with Stephan Shakespeare, a former spokesman for Jeffrey Archer. Zahawi was YouGov's CEO from 2005 to 2010.[6] In 2022 it emerged that, despite being one of the two key founders of YouGov, Zahawi was issued no founder shares in the company. Instead, he arranged for the founder shares that would have gone to him to go to a Gibraltar company owned by an offshore trust controlled by his parents.[11] Zahawi has denied that this was motivated by tax avoidance.[12] He has instructed libel lawyers to seek a withdrawal of allegations by tax lawyer Dan Neidle that one of Zahawi's denials of tax avoidance was based on a lie.[13][14]

Business and financial interestsEdit

In 2008, Zahawi became a non-executive director of SThree, a specialist staffing organisation.[15] He was paid £2,917 per month in 2014.[15] He stepped down from the role in October 2017,[16] but maintained more than £70,000 in company shares until April 2021.[17]

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 Berkford Investments Limited, based in the low-tax British overseas territory of Gibraltar, to finance the purchase of his constituency home 'Oaklands' riding stables estate (worth at the time £875,000) in Upper Tysoe, near Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire.[18]

Berkford Investments Limited is managed by T&T Management Services Limited, who services include wealth management services. 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."[18]

In 2015, he joined Gulf Keystone Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration and production company, as a part-time chief strategy officer.[19] From 2015 to 2018, he was paid £1.3 million by the company.[20][better source needed]

Zahawi's various roles resulted in his reportedly being the second highest earning MP in the UK as of 2017.[21]

The Guardian reported in early 2017 that Zahawi had spent £25m buying property around London, for both personal and commercial use.[22] Zahawi 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."[22] By 2021, it was reported that Zahawi or his wife owned £100 million in property, including an industrial estate, three properties in London, a country house with stables in Warwickshire and a property in Dubai.[23][better source needed]

PoliticsEdit

Early political careerEdit

In 1991, Zahawi and fellow British-Kurd Broosk Saib[24] were aides to Jeffrey Archer during Archer's "Simple Truth" campaign to help Kurdish victims of the Gulf War.[25] Zahawi and Saib were nicknamed "Lemon kurd" and "Bean kurd" by Archer.[25] 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.[26]

Zahawi was elected as a Conservative councillor in Putney[27] 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.[28]

Member of ParliamentEdit

In 2010, Zahawi was selected by the local Conservative association for Stratford-on-Avon as a prospective parliamentary candidate in the 2010 general election and he was elected.[29] He was subsequently re-elected in 2015, 2017 and 2019.[29]

In October 2013, Zahawi became a member of the Number 10 Policy Unit.[30] 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.[31]

In November 2013 Zahawi apologised after it was found out that he had claimed expenses for electricity used to run the stables on his private estate.[32]

Zahawi is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan Region in Iraq,[33] which receives secretarial support from Gulf Keystone Petroleum International, an oil company of which Zahawi was Chief Strategy Officer.[34] Concerns have been raised[by whom?] 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.[35][36][37]

During the time he was on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee he was also chairman of the secretive trans-Atlantic group Le Cercle but did not declare his membership.[38] In 2019 a member of his staff was listed as an administrator of Le Cercle in the Parliamentary Register of interests.[39]

He 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.[40][41]

 
Zahawi and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in 2019

Following the 2018 cabinet reshuffle, Zahawi was appointed by Theresa May as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education. On 26 July 2019 he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In October 2020, Zahawi was accused by Labour MP Tulip Siddiq of misleadingly suggesting that research from a holiday food and activities club pilot scheme had shown parents "actually prefer to pay a modest amount, £1 or £2", instead of receiving free school meals, in a debate over extending free school meals during school holidays.[42]

He became the first Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment in November 2020.[43] In December 2020, Zahawi stated that over 137,000 people in the UK had received a coronavirus vaccine in the first week of the UK's vaccination programme, with Zahawi describing it as a "really good start".[44][45] A 90-year-old woman from the UK became the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on 8 December 2020.[46] On 14 February 2021, Zahawi said that at least 15 million people in the UK had had their first COVID-19 vaccine.[47] In January 2022, after he had left this role, Zahawi tested positive for COVID-19.[48]

In February 2021, Zahawi said there were no plans to introduce vaccine passports to travel abroad, describing them as "discriminatory". He said people could talk to their doctor if they needed written evidence to travel.[49][50] In July 2021, the government announced plans to introduce domestic COVID-19 vaccine passports from September as a condition of entry to nightclubs and some other venues with large crowds.[51]

On 15 September 2021, Zahawi became Secretary of State for Education in a cabinet reshuffle, replacing Gavin Williamson.[52]

 
Zahawi at COP26 in 2021

During the COP26 conference in 2021, Zahawi announced a youth award scheme to tackle climate change, similar to The Duke of Edinburgh's Awards. Pupils will be encouraged to boost the biodiversity of their schools by taking initiatives such as erecting bird feeders. Young people will be given a new Climate Leader's Award for any positive work on protecting the environment, with a nationwide ceremony held each year.[53][54]

Zahawi has been drawing up guidance on how to accommodate pupils with gender dysphoria with input from Suella Braverman, the attorney-general. He suggested that schools could allow, for example, children to use lavatories and changing facilities of their gender identity if it differs from their biological sex only when they are not in use by others. Braverman, however, disagrees with the idea.[55] Zahawi also criticised a school where a female pupil had critically questioned a speaker after a talk on transphobia in October 2021. The girl was later subjected to swearing and spitting by her peers and had to leave the school, without completing her A-levels. Zahawi called the incident "hugely concerning" and "unacceptable".[56]

Chancellor of the ExchequerEdit

 
Chancellorship of Nadhim Zahawi
5 July 2022 – 6 September 2022
Nadhim Zahawi
PartyConservative
Nominated byBoris Johnson
Appointed byElizabeth II
Seat11 Downing Street

He was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer on 5 July 2022 following the resignation of Rishi Sunak earlier that day.[57]

The following day, members of the Cabinet, including Zahawi and Home Secretary Priti Patel, had gathered inside 10 Downing Street to call on Johnson to resign.[58][59] Zahawi called for Johnson's resignation in the morning of 7 July 2022, despite previously supporting Johnson and accepting an appointment as Chancellor less than 48 hours earlier.[60]

2022 Conservative Party leadership electionEdit

 
Logo for Zahawi's leadership bid

On 9 July 2022, Zahawi announced his candidacy in the 2022 Conservative Party leadership election saying he planned to "steady the ship and to stabilise the economy" by reviving low-tax Thatcherism.[61][62] Former Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis endorsed him stating he "delivers and gets things done".[62] On 13 July 2022, he was eliminated from the contest after not getting the required support of 30 MPs to reach the next round.[63] He later endorsed Liz Truss in the election.[64]

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for Equalities and Minister for Intergovernmental RelationsEdit

On 6 September 2022, Zahawi was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for Equalities (Government Equalities Office) and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations (Cabinet Office).

Honours and awardsEdit

Zahawi was sworn in as a member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council on 20 September 2021 at Balmoral Castle.[65] This gave him the honorific prefix "The Right Honourable" for Life.

Personal lifeEdit

A keen rider and show jumper,[1] Zahawi and his wife Lana (married 2004)[1] own and run a riding school.[66] He is a member of the private members' club Soho House.[1]

US travel banEdit

Following then US President Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769 that banned travellers from a number of Muslim majority countries, Zahawi reported that, despite being a British citizen, he was unable to enter the United States, as he was born in Iraq. The ban also affected his wife.[67] According to a media report, this prevented Zahawi from visiting his children attending university in the US.[68]

Zahawi spoke out against the policy and urged that the UK should not turn a blind eye to it. He also argued that the travel ban and then prime minister Theresa May's failure to condemn it only fuelled support for the Islamic State in Iraq and other countries.[68]

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.[69] Media reports alleged that female hostesses were subjected to sexual harassment and incidents of groping and inappropriate touching.[70] 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.[71] 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.[72][73]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ As Minister for Women and Equalities.

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Stratford-on-Avon

2010–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
2018–2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry
2019–2021
Succeeded by
Position established Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment
2020–2021
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Education
2021–2022
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the Exchequer
2022
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
2022–present
Incumbent
Preceded by Minister for Intergovernmental Relations
2022–present
Preceded byas Minister for Women and Equalities Minister for Equalities
2022–present