PM Rishi Sunak fails to give Nadhim Zahawi his full backing
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Rishi Sunak has ruled out imminent tax cuts, as he threw his weight behind “tough decisions” taken by the Government in the Autumn Statement. Mr Sunak set out his priorities earlier today while on a Cabinet “away day” at his grace and favour countryside residence, Chequers .
The day-long Cabinet team-building has been seen as part of an attempt to rally MPs in the face of mounting division after a series of controversies.
Following the Cabinet meeting, the PM’s spokesperson said Mr Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today “emphasised that the rate of inflation is only predicted to fall because of the tough decisions the Government had taken at the Autumn Statement to stabilise the economy”.
The Chancellor told his Cabinet it would be necessary to “retain this disciplined approach” in order to reduce inflation.
But he outlined “key factors which would deliver growth”, saying that helping more people back into work is “one of the most important steps which could have immediate benefits for everyone”.
The Cabinet meeting also saw Health Secretary Steve Barclay outline the “urgent work” which is currently underway to tackle “immediate challenges” being faced by the NHS.
He claimed some of the first targets facing the NHS have been met, pointing to “virtually eliminating” two-year wait times.
Mr Barclay said he and health service leaders would shortly be setting out detailed plans for action to help improve emergency and primary care.
Speaking from Chequers tonight, Mr Sunak pledged a “relentless focus” on looking after the UK’s “priorities”, vowing to “stop the boats” and tackle the problem of illegal migration.
He reiterated his Government’s five priorities, promising it will deliver “peace of mind to people and immediate relief for families”.
Mr Sunak said: “Earlier this year I set out the Government’s five priorities for this country – to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists and stop the boats.
“We are relentlessly focused on delivering those. Because if we do that, we can provide peace of mind to people and immediate relief for families.
“But also the fact that they can look forward to a better future for their children and grandchildren. A future that’s filled with hope, optimism and pride in our country.”
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He continued: “That’s what we’re here discussing today. Because we want to provide relief for families up and down the country. “
Mr Sunak spoke about under-fire Tory Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, telling reporters he doesn’t propose to “prejudge the outcome” of the investigation launched into the former Chancellor’s tax affairs.
When asked if he has confidence in Mr Zahawi, Mr Sunak said: “What I believe in is due process, and that’s why I appointed an independent advisor to look into the questions that have been raised, investigate the situation fully, establish the facts and provide advice to me on Nadhim Zahawi’s compliance with the ministerial code.”
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister ordered his independent ethics adviser to investigate Mr Zahawi’s tax affairs after it emerged he paid a penalty to HMRC over unpaid tax while he was Chancellor.
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