Rishi Sunak must ‘do more than the bare minimum’ to combat Tory sleaze allegations | Politics News

Just a few months ago, Rishi Sunak promised on the steps of Downing Street that his premiership would be different.

With his commitment to integrity, professionalism and accountability he pledged a new chapter of government.

His vision seemed to be one of getting things done efficiently and drama-free rather than lurching from one self-inflicted scandal to another.

But as he is quickly finding out, it’s easier said than done.

And so he has begun 2023 with a new set of sleaze allegations.

The characters and the plot lines though are all too familiar.

Firstly, Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi is accused of impropriety over his financial affairs, and not for the first time.

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‘Questions need answering’ in Zahawi case, says PM

He has always insisted he does everything by the book, but the latest revelation that he agreed to a multimillion-pound deal after a dispute with HMRC during his time as chancellor, eventually became too embarrassing for the Prime Minister.

Under mounting pressure over the weekend, the PM eventually referred it to his ethics advisor, admitting there are “questions to be answered”.

Nadhim Zahawi looks on outside the Conservative Party's headquarters in London, Britain January 23, 2023.
Nadhim Zahawi refused to speak to reporters after arriving at Conservative Party headquarters on Monday

And as if that wasn’t enough, his old frenemy Boris Johnson has proved he does not need to be in Number 10 to cause problems.

At the heart of this controversy is an issue that plagued him in office and has followed him to the backbenches.

A tendency to live well beyond his means and periodically ask for handouts has dragged down another of Johnson’s willing friends, this time BBC chair Richard Sharp who helped him secure an £800,000 loan in 2020.

Politics Hub latest: ‘Evidence’ Zahawi’s TV interview defence was ‘not true’ as Sunak orders probe

None of these sagas are of Sunak’s making but to live up to his own high standards he will need to show he really is prepared to deal with them differently, rather than doing the bare minimum and hoping it all goes away.

So far, he has yet to convince his critics that he hasn’t reverted back to business as usual.