'Unbelievable!' Kay Burley Clashes With Minister Over Handling Of Zahawi's Tax Affairs

Kay Burley and Helen Whately clashed on Sky News
Kay Burley and Helen Whately clashed on Sky News

Kay Burley and Helen Whately clashed on Sky News

Kay Burley locked horns with a health minister during a tense interview on Monday while discussing the sacking of Tory Party chair Nadhim Zahawi.

Zahawi was forced out of government over the weekend after the PM’s independent ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus found that he had breached the ministerial code repeatedly over the last two years over his tax affairs.

Minister Helen Whately tried to defend Rishi Sunak’s decision to sack Zahawi only after this investigation was released – claiming he had made a “very rapid and decisive decision” – but Burley repeatedly pointed out that there were many warning signs the prime minister seemed to overlook.

For instance, she asked if civil servants would not have alerted the prime minister about the concerns related to Zahawi’s taxes.

“What I’m saying is the prime minister didn’t know about the things that have come out,” Whately replied.

Burley said: “Well, he should know.”

Whatley just pinned the blame on Zahawi himself for not being clear about the HMRC investigation into his finances when Sunak was about to appoint him as a senior member of government.

She said: “This is a process and the process in general which means ministers declare all their interests, it’s really important to make sure there should be no conflicts of interest or perceived conflicts of interest.”

Burley replied: “So civil servants in the cabinet office are saying, ‘woah, you need to look at this guy’s finances’ – and that’s not passed onto the prime minister?”

“I’m not going to give you a different answer from what I’ve just said.”

“It’s unbelievable,” Burley said.

“What I’ve just said is what the prime minister knew and as I said was set out in the report yesterday and that was why the prime minister felt he had to be removed from government.”

Asked if Zahawi should be removed from the Tory Party altogether, Whately said that he had been elected as an MP back in 2019, before trying to change the direction of the interview.

She then tried to change the direction of the car crash conversation onto her own health portfolio, saying: “I will just say, I’ve come here to talk about something that I know people really care about.”

But, Burley replied: “We will move onto that – I do the interview, you answer the questions.”

“Well, of course.”

“i’ll ask the questions in the order that I see fit, if you don’t mind.”

Pressed over why Zahawi was still in the Conservative Party at all, now that he sits as a backbencher, Whately claimed there was no need for the Tory whip to be withdrawn as he was elected as an MP back in 2019.

She added that he did a “fantastic” job with the Covid vaccine rollout at the height of the pandemic.