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Nadhim Zahawi’s political Odyssey

Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Does Nadhim Zahawi have the worst judgement in Tory politics? As recently as last year, the man could do no wrong: the boosterish vaccines minister who impressed at education, winning fans with his back story and media savvy. Yet since then, the millionaire pollster’s winning touch seems to have deserted him. Indeed, Zahawi has been on something of a political Odyssey, without the happy ending. For, in his search for a patron Penelope, Zahawi seems to embrace every Scylla and be sucked into each Charybdis that he encounters on his way.

Take the events of the last three months. On 5 July, he was appointed as Boris Johnson’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, declaring that ‘this is a team game, you play for the team and you deliver for the nation.’ Yet on 7 July, he called on Johnson to resign, barely a day after being appointed. He wrote a public letter, declaring that Johnson is ‘now undermining the incredible achievements of this government’ arguing that ‘the country deserves a government that is not only stable, but which acts with integrity.’

Fast forward 109 days to today and Zahawi urged the return of, er, Boris Johnson at 9:28 a.m, declaring that ‘With a unified team behind him, he is the one to lead us to victory & prosperity.’ He then followed this up with a piece for the Daily Telegraph at 9:00 p.m, headed ‘Get ready for Boris 2.0, the man who will make the Tories and Britain great again’ with the sub-heading ‘fresher, stronger and more compassionate than before, he is the outstanding choice to lead our country through rough seas.’

Unfortunately, this new ‘compassionate’ Johnson had neglected to tell his ‘friend’ that he had, in fact, already dropped out of the race minutes earlier. The tweet plugging the piece, titled ‘Nobody else can better face off the threat posed by Sir Keir Starmer’ has since been deleted. Zahawi, meanwhile, has already found a new horse to back/euthanise, throwing his weight behind Rishi Sunak who, presumably, will somehow find a way to let down the Odysseus of Avon down, once more. Zahawi has since tweeted:

Steerpike gives Rishi six hours at best.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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