Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi says it is ‘easy to walk away’ as he replaces Rishi Sunak

2022-07-06 11:28:00

New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi says it is “easy to walk away” from government, but “much tougher to deliver for the country” as he replaces Rishi Sunak in the Treasury.

Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley on his first full day in the job, he said he backed Boris Johnson as prime minister, adding: “The team in government today is the team that will deliver”.

But his predecessor, Mr Sunak, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid both resigned from cabinet last night, saying they had lost confidence in the PM and “standards are worth fighting for”.

They were followed out the door by a swathe of more junior ministers and Solicitor General Alex Chalk, who said his job could not “extend to defending the indefensible”.

Yet Mr Johnson appears determined to stay in post, with a senior Number 10 source saying he was “very, very conscious that 14 million people voted for him to get the job done and he wants to carry on on their behalf”.

Politics Hub: New chancellor denies he threatened to quit – live updates

Mr Zahawi rejected reports he threatened to resign if he was not given the chancellor’s post in the forced reshuffle, telling Kay Burley: “No, I didn’t threaten to resign at all.

“This his is a team game and you play for the team and you deliver for the team.”

And the chancellor insisted he believed the prime minister had integrity, saying his boss was “determined to deliver for this country.”

Mr Johnson will face his backbenchers and opposition MPs in the Commons later at Prime Minister’s Questions, before he is grilled by the Liaison Committee on topics including integrity in politics.

The resignation drama unfolded last night minutes after Mr Johnson said sorry for hiring his former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, despite knowing he had faced complaints over inappropriate behaviour back in 2019.

The apology came after days of changing messages from Number 10 over the hiring and handling of Mr Pincher, who quit last week after being accused of groping two men in a private member’s club in London.

First to announce his departure was Mr Javid, who in his damning resignation letter said he could “no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this government”.

Mr Sunak followed 10 minutes later, writing: “The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.

“I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”

More junior ministers followed, with parliamentary private secretary at the Department of Transport, Laura Trott, becoming the latest, writing on her Facebook page: “Trust in politics is – and must always be – of the upmost importance, but sadly in recent months this has been lost.”

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