Nadhim Zahawi: Rishi Sunak's successor whose family fled Saddam Hussein's regime

Published on Jul 06, 2022 10:13 AM IST
UK PM Boris Johnson elevated education secretary Nadhim Zahawi to the chancellor of the exchequer after Rishi Sunak's resignation.
Newly-appointed British chancellor of the exchequer Nadhim Zahawi.(Reuters / File)
Newly-appointed British chancellor of the exchequer Nadhim Zahawi.(Reuters / File)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday appointed Nadhim Zahawi as the new chancellor of the exchequer, replacing Rishi Sunak who had earlier resigned from the cabinet in protest against Johnson's leadership. While the Conservation leader is under mounting pressure over a string of missteps, his swift move to name Sunak's successor is seen as an attempt to re-assert control over the divided party members.

Zahawi's appointment also comes at a time when the British government is trying to tackle the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.

Who is Nadhim Zahawi?

Born in Baghdad to Kurdish parents, Nadhim Zahawi came to Britain as a refugee boy after his family fled Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1970s. Zahawi couldn't speak English when he arrived in the UK, and he has spoken about how he was bullied at school.

As a trained chemical engineer, Zahawi went on to work in the oil industry. He became a self-made millionaire and entered the British parliament in 2010. He backed Brexit in 2016.

Zahawi rose to prominence for his role in overseeing Britain's successful vaccination roll-out during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. He has also been a staunch defender of Johnson throughout the partygate scandal.

He and his wife own five residences worth 17 million pounds – three in London, one in Warwickshire and one in Dubai, according to a Bloomberg report.

Borish Johnson's future

Boris Johnson's future in the government remains uncertain despite him surviving a no-confidence motion in the Conservative party. While current party rules will keep him safe from another challenge for a year, Tories have been mulling amending that rule to allow them to carry out another vote as soon as possible.

"I suspect we will have to drag him kicking and screaming from Downing Street," Reuters quoted an unnamed Conservative lawmaker as saying. "But if we have to do it that way then we will."

The twin resignations from Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid could also open the door for a flood of other resignations.

(With inputs from Bloomberg, Reuters)

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