Nadhim Zahawi: Former chancellor and vaccines minister will stand down at general election

Nadhim Zahawi: Former chancellor and vaccines minister will stand down at general election

Former COVID vaccines minister and chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has announced he will not be standing at the next general election.

The Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010 quoted his “most famous constituent” as he wrote: “Go to your bosom; knock there and ask your heart what it doth know.”

He said: “The time is right for a new, energetic Conservative to fight for the honour of representing Stratford-on-Avon.”

“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” he added, referencing Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet.

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Mr Zahawi is the 64th current Conservative MP to announce he will not be standing at the next general election, which is expected this year.

A further six MPs who were elected as Tories in 2019 but now sit as independents have also announced they are leaving Parliament.

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Mr Zahawi was responsible for the COVID vaccine roll-out and was chancellor for two months over the summer of 2022. He was also education secretary for 10 months before that.

The MP stood to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative leader but was eliminated from the ballot after the first round of voting and then supported Liz Truss, who made him Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, intergovernmental relations minister and equalities minister.

Nadhim Zahawi was the COVID vaccines minister, responsible for its roll-out

Mr Zahawi said in his statement: “My mistakes have been mine, and my successes have come from working with, and leading, amazing people.”

He also thanked his family and friends, and especially his wife Lana, for their love.

The MP was made Conservative Party chairman by Rishi Sunak but was dismissed for failing to disclose he was being investigated by HMRC and the National Crime Agency over a multi-million pound tax dispute related to the sale of shares in his polling firm YouGov while he was chancellor.

He said he had made a “careless and not deliberate” error after initially saying he had no knowledge of the investigation and had “paid all taxes”.

In 2013, Mr Zahawi had to apologise and promised to repay part of a £5,822.27 energy bill expenses claim after it emerged taxpayers were paying for the electricity supply to the stables at his estate in Warwickshire.

Boris Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi
Mr Zahawi at a Cabinet meeting with Boris Johnson

The 56-year-old was born in Baghdad, Iraq, but his family fled the country under Saddam Hussein to live in London when he was 11-years-old.

He added: “Every morning as I shave my head in the mirror, I have to pinch myself.

“How is it that a boy from Baghdad who came to these shores, fleeing persecution and unable to speak a word of English, was able to do as much as I have?

“For all our challenges, this is the best country on Earth, and it helped me make my British dream come true. It was where I built a Great British business, YouGov, and it was where I raised my wonderful family.”

The MP said he felt “immensely privileged” to have served “my country across government”, as he listed his roles, including being responsible for coordinating the Queen’s funeral.

Mr Zahawi found himself unable to enter the United States to visit his children at university in 2017 after then US President Donald Trump banned travellers from some Muslim majority countries, because he was born in Iraq.

He recently made a surprise appearance in an ITV drama about the Post Office IT scandal, playing himself questioning then Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells in a Commons committee inquiry.