In a letter to Mr Zahawi published by Downing Street on Sunday morning, Mr Sunak said he intervened on the matter to ensure his Government maintained “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.
Last Monday Mr Sunak asked his independent adviser to conduct an investigation into Mr Zahawi’s taxes after it was revealed the MP paid an estimated £5million settlement in addition to a penalty to HMRC for tax avoidance last summer.
Mr Sunak wrote: “Following the completion of the independent adviser’s investigation – the findings of which he has shared with us both — it is clear that there has been a serious breach of the ministerial code. As a result, I have informed you of my decision to remove you from your position in His Majesty’s Government.”
In response, Mr Zahawi said he would continue to serve as an MP for Stratford-on-Avon and wrote to Mr Sunak: “You can be assured of my support from the backbenches in the coming years.”
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak’s brutal letter sacking Nadhim Zahawi in full
In the build up to this conclusion, as Mr Zahawi dominated headlines and calls rang out for his resignation, Express.co.uk asked readers in poll — that ran from 10.30am on Monday, January 23, to 11.30am on Monday, January 30 — “Should Nadhim Zahawi resign over tax row?”
OVerall, 8,307 votes were cast with the vast majority of readers, 73 percent (6,071 people) answering “yes” Mr Zahawi should resign”.
Whereas 26 percent (2,161 people) said “no” he should not, and a further one percent (75 people) said they did not know either way.
Hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers discussed Mr Zahawi’s position.
Former Tory Cabinet minister Michael Portillo said it was “commendable” that Mr Sunak has wanted to conduct a proper investigation into Mr Zahawi but told GB News: “This thing has been in the headlines now for days and days and days and it’s been doing terrible damage to the government, and to him and to the party.
“I think he did have an opportunity to get rid of him earlier. So I think the Prime Minister will face some criticism for having taken so long … It pains me to say this, but I think on the whole it makes Rishi look weak.”
Similarly, David Cameron’s director of communications at No 10, Sir Craig Oliver, tweeted: “The PM finally reaches the obvious and inevitable conclusion by sacking Nadhim Zahawi. Rishi Sunak knew nothing this morning that he didn’t know a week ago – he will be lamenting feeling unable to stand up to some backbenchers; instead more damage to the Conservatives brand.”
Mr Sunak told NHS staff in County Durham on Monday that he “acted pretty decisively” over Mr Zahawi and took a “very quick decision” about his Party Chairman’s position in Government. He added: “What I have done is follow a process, which is the right process. Integrity is really important to me.”
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove defended Mr Sunak’s inquiry, telling BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “As a general rule I think it is important when allegations are raised that they are investigated promptly, but also we shouldn’t rush to judgment before there’s been that investigation.”