Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

Did Rishi really not know about Zahawi’s tax troubles?

(Photo: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor)

Necromancy was the main theme at PMQs. The Labour party has realised that Nadhim Zahawi’s resignation has left a gaping hole in their ‘sleazy Tories’ strategy. They badly need him back on stage.

Sir Keir Starmer addressed Rishi’s fanciful claim that the rumours about Zahawi’s tax affairs were unknown to him until recent weeks. Sir Keir quoted three daily papers that mentioned Zahawi’s murky financial affairs last July. And he treated Rishi’s denials with blokeish scorn.

‘Oh come on. Anyone picking up a newspaper would have known it.’

Is it credible that Rishi knew less about Zahawi than the media, the whole of parliament and most voters? Rishi mounted a feeble defence and said he’d followed the correct procedures.

Sir Keir parodied this, as if the PM were an untrained air-traffic controller blaming a plane crash on a bust computer.

‘Nobody told me. I didn’t know. I didn’t ask.’

Ian Blackford seems a lot less troublesome now

Rishi indulged in a spot of spiritualism as well by evoking the vanquished spectre of Jeremy Corbyn. Sir Keir has denounced the Corbyn era as a period when ‘hate was allowed to spread unchallenged in the Labour party.’

He spoke of this as if it were ancient history but, as Rishi pointed out, ‘he was sitting right next to (Corbyn), supporting him for four long years.’

Rishi’s best moment came when he mentioned Rosie Duffield who likens membership of the Labour party to ‘an abusive relationship.’ The PM accused Sir Keir of abandoning Duffield.

‘He can’t be trusted to stand up for women in his party and he can’t be trusted to stand up for Britain.’

Stephen Flynn of the SNP lectured MPs about the glories of the European Union.

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