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Rishi Sunak tackles a tough Prime Minister’s Questions – with Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs on the agenda. Some expected the Tory chairman to go before the session, to save the PM some difficult questions, but he passed this “major hurdle”.
Rishi Sunak and his cabinet will decamp to Chequers for an away day on Thursday as the government continues to face questions about the tax affairs of Nadhim Zahawi.

Downing Street has said the outing to Chequers, which has been the official country residence of British prime ministers since 1921, will focus on the prime minister’s political priorities.
Mr Zahawi is expected to join the gathering at the country retreat, against a backdrop of an ethics inquiry into the Conservative Party chairman and former chancellor.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer grilled Mr Sunak in the Commons about the controversy on Wednesday, accusing him of being too weak to sack his embattled party chairman.
Mr Sunak suggested it might be “politically expedient” to sack Mr Zahawi, but told MPs it was important for “due process” to be followed.
Downing Street offered few details about what the away day would entail.
However, the PM’s official spokesman said cabinet ministers would be “focused on the five priority areas that the prime minister talked about in his speech, both in terms of getting an update on progress on those five goals and what more can be done”.
The government of the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, will do a “superb job” of hosting this year’s COP28 climate negotiations, a government minister has said.
Many observers fear the Gulf petrostate is the wrong fit for the job of hosting the global climate talks, which agree the collective next step towards tackling climate change.
But Lord Zac Goldsmith, an influential environmentalist and Foreign Office minister, told an audience on Tuesday evening that he had been speaking “very regularly” with UAE ministers working on COP28 and was “very optimistic about it”.
The success of a COP depends largely on the nation holding the presidency, which should drive the direction of the talks, build consensus and hold laggard governments to account.
Some environmentalists have questioned whether oil-producer UAE, which has close ties to others like Saudi Arabia, will lack ambition in getting the world off fossil fuels, preferring to focus on solutions rather than causes.
You can read more from climate reporter Victoria Seabrook below…
Chief political correspondent Jon Craig explains the controversy surrounding Nadhim Zahawi’s finances – and why there is mounting pressure for the former chancellor to resign.
Video produced by Jasmine Kaur, digital politics producer
Former prime minister Boris Johnson and the leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer have both wished the Ukrainian president a happy birthday.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been leading the efforts against Russia since February, when Vladimir Putin launched his months-long attack.
Mr Johnson has since visited Mr Zelenskyy in Kyiv numerous times, the most recent being last week, shortly after it was claimed the BBC chair had helped him secure an £800,000 loan.
Writing on Twitter, the former PM said: “Happy birthday @ZelenskyyUa. 
“Your heroic leadership is an example to the whole world. I wish you all the best today and always. Slava Ukraini!”
Shortly afterwards, Sir Keir shared his own warm words.
He said: “Sending @ZelenskyyUa best wishes on your birthday.
“Your leadership through the most devastating of times is admired around the world.
“The Labour Party, and the United Kingdom stands firmly with Ukraine, united against Russian aggression.”
Sir Keir Starmer attacked Rishi Sunak for failing to sack Nadhim Zahawi – but the PM accused the opposition leader of “political opportunism” over the criticism.
You can read more from political reporters Jennifer Scott and Faye Brown
Levelling up minister Michael Gove has promised to harness the “spirit” of Thatcherism to help the North of England.

Mr Gove cited the “active” government of Margaret Thatcher and her 1980s transformation of the London docklands as inspiration for levelling up – the plan to narrow economic and social disparities between the North and South.
The minister was speaking at the Convention of the North, a major gathering of political and business leaders in Manchester.
In a wide-ranging 40-minute speech, Mr Gove summarised his levelling up agenda, speaking of the “enduring and entrenched geographical and social divide” while calling London a “priceless asset” of the economy.

Mr Gove said he was no supporter of “inevitable and continuing” state expansion, but a failure to deal with inequalities between the North and South would lead to more welfare dependency, social problems and pressure on the NHS and the public purse.
He cited Margaret Thatcher’s administration in the 1980s, a decade marked by the closure of coal mines and industrial strife in the North, as a model for elements of levelling up.
He said: “And the experience of successful economic transformation demonstrates that growth is not secured by absent government but by active government.
“A government that plays a strategic role, irrigating the soil for growth as Mrs Thatcher did, specifically in the Docklands.
“When the Thatcher government took office in 1979, London’s docklands were a derelict economic desert.
“The original vision for re-generation of the area, from the Treasury of the time, was simple: just cut taxes and de-regulate and a thousand flowers will bloom in the dusty and contaminated soil of the docklands.”
Staff working in Parliament are “exploring industrial action” following a pay offer of 4.9%.
The Unite branch in Westminster representing staff said in a statement: “Following below-inflation pay settlements over the past few years, the 4.9% pay increase improved by the Speakers panel yesterday is grossly inadequate.
“It is half the inflation rate and well below the 6.9% average wage increases in the private sector.
“Parliamentary staff have been ignored and disregarded in this offer, the Unite parliamentary branch will now be exploring industrial action as a result”.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has recommitted himself to the project, following criticisms of last week’s announcement of the latest round of funding totalling £2bn.
Speaking at the Convention of the North today, Mr Gove said the UK economy is like a football team “with a star striker but a midfield that consistently struggles to get the ball upfield” – in reference to London’s dominance of the country.
Political correspondent Amanda Akass was watching the speech, and said it may have been aimed at Andy Street, the Tory West Midlands metro mayor, who described the way levelling up money was distributed as a “begging-bowl” culture.
Plans to overhaul human rights legislation would weaken UK courts and result in more cases being decided in Strasbourg, MPs have warned.
Rishi Sunak is being urged to scrap plans for a new Bill of Rights by an influential cross-party committee, which said it would create additional barriers that make it harder for people to enforce their fundamental freedoms.
You can read more here:
Number 10 has declined multiple times to say whether Rishi Sunak has ever paid a tax penalty.
The prime minister’s press secretary was asked the question in light of the settlement Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi reached when he was chancellor last summer. 
“You wouldn’t expect me to get into the prime minister’s tax affairs, they are confidential,” she said.
“The tax affairs of an individual, irrespective of who they are, are confidential.”

The PM will publish his tax return “in due course”, she added.
A Labour spokesman has said Mr Sunak should say if he has ever paid a tax penalty.
Speaking to journalists, a Labour spokesman told reporters that Mr Sunak should reveal whether he has ever paid a tax penalty.
Asked if Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had ever paid a tax penalty, the party official said he would have to find out and “come back to you”.
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