He’s a former baby refugee who offered Teletubbies merchandise, based the UK’s greatest identified polling firm and was a contender to be chief of the Conservative Get together.
However Nadhim Zahawi’s rise by way of the echelons of Westminster is at present being overshadowed by questions around his tax affairs.
So how did the 55-year-old rise to be the toast of the Tories earlier than ending up facing an ethics investigation over the dealing with of his funds?
Mr Zahawi was born in Bagdad, Iraq, and spent his early years rising up as a part of an influential Kurdish household.
His father was a well known businessman and his grandfather was the governor of the Central Financial institution of Iraq.
However after Saddam Hussein got here to energy in 1979, the dictator started to focus on the Kurds.
“It was clear to my household Iraq wouldn’t be protected underneath his management and that’s once we determined we needed to flee to the UK,” Mr Zahawi instructed his native newspaper, the Stratford Herald.
He arrived within the UK aged 11, unable to talk a phrase of English, and started his new life by going to Holland Park College in London.
Quickly, his household moved him from a complete schooling to personal faculty, and he studied at each Ibstock Place College, Roehampton, after which King’s Faculty College, Wimbledon, each in southwest London.
Nevertheless, as he was set to go off to school, an funding by his father went stomach up and the household misplaced all the things, besides for his or her Vauxhall automobile.
Mr Zahawi used the car to develop into a minicab driver to contribute to the household funds, however his mom insisted he keep it up learning and pawned her jewelry to cowl the prices.
So off he went to College Faculty London to review chemical engineering.
After graduating in 1988, it was the world of enterprise he needed to pursue and he sought to echo his father’s instance as an entrepreneur.
Like his father, it did not all the time go proper – his establishing of a agency that offered Teletubbies merchandise ended as a “pricey and painful mistake”, he later stated.
However it did entice the eye and funding of Lord Jeffrey Archer – who as soon as described him as a “born organiser” – and opened doorways to the senior ranks of the Conservative Get together.
Mr Zahawi grew to become an aide to Lord Archer and in return, the peer helped along with his personal marketing campaign to develop into a Tory councillor, successful a seat within the London borough of Wandsworth in 1994.
There was additionally a failed try to enter Parliament in 1997, when he competed for the brand new seat of Erith and Thamesmead amid a Labour landslide.
Learn extra: What do we know about Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs?
He helped with Lord Archer’s London mayoral marketing campaign in 1998 too, but it surely was delivered to an early shut when the peer pulled out of the race amid controversy.
It was the flip of the millennium that signalled one other change in Mr Zahawi’s fortunes when, alongside one other former aide of Lord Archer’s, Stephan Shakespeare, he based polling firm YouGov.
The enterprise grew and grew, and inside 5 years it was floated on the inventory market valued at £18m.
He would later inform Sky Information he was “the beneficiary of the British dream“.
Based on the Night Normal, Mr Zahawi cashed in £1.2m of shares in 2005, and went on to work because the agency’s CEO for an extra 5 years.
However having made his fortune, he set his sights firmly again on the world of politics and, in 2010, he was elected because the MP for Stratford-upon-Avon.
Masters Of Nothing
A yr later, with world nonetheless affected by the fallout from the 2008 recession, he co-authored a e-book with fellow MP Matt Hancock, titled Masters Of Nothing: How The Crash Will Occur Once more Until We Perceive Human Nature.
He started to achieve some recognition within the social gathering, turning into a part of the Quantity 10 coverage unit advising the then prime minister David Cameron.
Nevertheless, on this early a part of his Commons profession, he grew to become extra identified to the general public for his half in a 2013 bills scandal, having claimed money to energy his horses’ stables.
It wasn’t till 2018 that Mr Zahawi was appointed into his first junior minister publish – a parliamentary underneath secretary on the Division for Training – and a yr later he was moved to the enterprise division.
However he grew to become a family identify after COVID broke out within the UK and he was appointed by Boris Johnson to develop into the nation’s vaccine minister, receiving widespread reward for his work within the Division of Well being and Social Care to sort out the pandemic.
‘Do the suitable factor and go’
The efficiency propelled him to cupboard and in September 2021, he took his first secretary of state publish, again within the Division for Training.
The chaos that ensued the next yr as Mr Johnson’s downfall performed out in public noticed him pushed up the ranks once more, changing Rishi Sunak as chancellor in Quantity 11 after his dramatic resignation.
However two days later, Mr Zahawi joined the rising horde of ministers calling for the PM to step down, telling Mr Johnson: “You should do the suitable factor and go now.”
A emptiness was created on the high, and he threw his hat within the ring to develop into the subsequent Tory chief and subsequent prime minister.
Giving his first broadcast marketing campaign interview to Sky Information, Mr Zahawi promised that underneath his management, the federal government would scale back company tax, earnings tax and nationwide insurance coverage.
However the situation of his personal funds was delivered to the fore after stories his tax affairs had been investigated by the Severe Fraud Workplace, the Nationwide Crime Company and HMRC.
‘I used to be clearly being smeared’
“I used to be clearly being smeared,” he instructed Kay Burley. “I am not conscious of this. I’ve all the time declared my taxes – I’ve paid my taxes within the UK. I’ll reply any questions HMRC has of me.
“However I’ll go additional. I’ll make a dedication at the moment, that if I’m prime minister the suitable factor to do is publish my accounts yearly. That’s the proper factor to do as a result of we have to take this situation off the desk.”
Mr Zahawi did not make it by way of the primary spherical of balloting, and as an alternative threw his backing behind Liz Truss.
He carried on within the Treasury till Ms Truss took the keys to Quantity 10, however was dealt a demotion in her cupboard, as an alternative turning into Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, minister for intergovernmental relations and minister for equalities.
As we all know, this premiership was to not final lengthy, and weeks later – underneath Rishi Sunak – Mr Zahawi was made chairman of the Tory Get together.
A seven-figure sum
However these questions raised over the summer time concerning his taxes had been quickly to resurface once more.
In January 2023, The Solar On Sunday revealed a report claiming Mr Zahawi had paid a seven-figure sum to settle a dispute with HMRC over the gross sales of his YouGov shares.
Sky Information made a number of makes an attempt within the following days to get Mr Zahawi to substantiate or deny the story, however his crew refused, as an alternative saying his tax affairs “had been and are absolutely updated and are paid within the UK”.
Mr Sunak stood by him throughout Prime Minister’s Questions that week, however by the weekend, the swirl of questions was rising by the hour.
‘Careless not deliberate error’
On Saturday, he admitted he paid what HMRC stated “was due” after it “disagreed in regards to the actual allocation” of shares in YouGov.
The Tory chairman said this was a “careless and not a deliberate error” and did not verify if any penalty was additionally levied.
However Sky Information understands that, as a part of a settlement with HMRC, Mr Zahawi paid a penalty to the tax collector.
The precise measurement of the settlement has not been disclosed, however it’s reported to be an estimated £4.8m together with a 30% penalty.
By Monday, Mr Sunak had ordered a potentially far-reaching investigation into Mr Zahawi to be performed by the PM’s new ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus.
However the prime minister has thus far resisted calls to sack Mr Zahawi, saying he retains “confidence” in his colleague.