Who is Nadhim Zahawi? Boris Johnson's new chancellor's refugee story, net worth, and stable expenses
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has joined the race to be the next Conservative leader.
Nadhim Zahawi is the new Chancellor of the Exchequer who called for Boris Johnson to resign just days after he was given the position.
Zahawi, 55, has thrown his hat in the ring alongside the likes of Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat, Liz Truss, Grant Shapps, Sajid Javid, and Jeremy Hunt.
Here’s all you need to know about Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor who wants to be PM.
Nadhim Zahawi: Story of escape from Iraq
Nadhim Zahawi was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1967 to Kurdish parents. At the age of 11, he was forced to flee to the UK with his family as tensions rose between the Kurdish community and Saddam Hussein.
“When you have to flee your home country, you experience hundreds of emotions at once,” he told the Stratford Herald, “Yes, you are relieved to escape and grateful to the country accepting you, but also you feel guilt for those who haven’t been so lucky, those who didn’t get away.”
Mr Zahawi said starting school in the UK was difficult, he couldn’t speak much English at the time, and children would call him racist slurs.
But he said: “Thankfully, being young, I was able to adapt quickly and picked up the language and things began to change. I find once people start to understand your hopes and ambitions, they are unbelievably helpful.”
Where did Nadhim Zahawi go to school?
Nadhim Zahawi went to Ibsttock Place School in London, which has fees of up to £7,450 a term. He was then educated at King’s College School in Wimbledon, which has fees of up to £8,085 a term.
For his degree, he studied chemical engineering at University College London.
Nadhim Zahawi’s early career and YouGov
A keen businessman, Nadhim Zahawi co-founded YouGov with Stephan Shakespeare in May 2000.
It is an international research data and analytics group which produces polls – including voters’ views of the Government. Mr Zahawi was CEO of YouGov from 2005 until 2010.
The 55-year-old was elected as a Conservative councillor for Putney and served three terms between 1996 and 2006.
He was later selected as a Tory candidate for the safe Conservative seat Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace of William Shakespeare – and became its MP in 2010. Mr Zahawi has been reelected in this constituency ever since, winning a 19,972 vote majority in 2019.
Nadhim Zahawi cabinet roles
Nadhim Zahawi served as Minister for Children and Families under Theresa May. In Boris Johnson’s Government, he was appointed Business Secretary, playing a key role in Brexit discussions.
Then, during the Covid-19 pandemic, he was given the additional position of Secretary for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment. He described it as “the most important job I’ll ever do” as he oversaw the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the UK.
In the 2021 cabinet reshuffle, Mr Zahawi became Education Secretary, replacing Gavin Williamson. During recent week he had been attempting to prevent potential strike action from teachers, and called for a nine per cent pay rise.
Finally, he has now risen to Chancellor following the resignation of Rishi Sunak.
What is Nadhim Zahawi’s net worth?
Nadhim Zahawi is one of the richest MPs. He and his wife Lana are reported to have a property empire worth more than £100m.
In September 2021, Ms Zahawi bought a £6.3 million site comprising a giant Co-op and car park in Cambridgeshire, the Mirror reported.
Through the company Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd., she also owns land worth £18 million which includes an Asda megatore in the West Midlands.
The couple own five homes reportedly worth £17 million, including three in London, one in Dubai, and another in Warwickshire.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Zahawi will be entitled a salary of around £71,673 a year.
Nadhim Zahawi expenses scandal over stable energy bills
In 2013, Mr Zahawi claimed £5,882 expenses for energy bills, including to heat his riding school stables and and yard manager’s mobile home.
He came under fire for this and was removed from chairing a meeting about unfair energy bills with the Citizens Advice.
However, Mr Zahawi said it was a mistake and said he had repaid the £4,875.87 overpayment.
Questions over Nadhim Zahawi offshore tax affairs
Nadhim Zahawi has been facing questions over his tax affairs.
Civil servants are said to have alerted Boris Johnson to a HMRC “flag” over Mr Zahawi’s financial affairs before he was appointed Chancellor, The Observer reports.
The Tory leadership hopeful is facing calls to explain an offshore family trust, Balshore Investments in Gibraltar, which held shares worth more than £20m in YouGov.
Meanwhile The Independent reports Inland Revenue experts are investigating Mr Zahawi's tax affairs. The media outlet also said the National Crime Agency (NCA) launched an inquiry into the MP’s finances in 2020.
The investigation was passed onto HMRC, controlled by the Treasury which, as Chancellor, Mr Zahawi now runs.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Zahawi, who has said he is being “smeared” over the allegations.
He told Sky’s Kay Burley: “I was clearly being smeared. I was being told that the Serious Fraud Office, that the National Crime Agency, that HMRC are looking into me.
"I was not aware of this, I have always paid my taxes, I have declared my taxes in the UK."
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