Number 10 said that Rishi Sunak has never paid a tax fine as the row over Nadhim Zahawi’s tax issues continues.
The prime minister’s spokeswoman on Wednesday repeatedly declined to say whether Sunak had ever paid a tax fine when questioning reporters.
“You wouldn’t expect me to get into the prime minister’s tax affairs, they are confidential,” he said, adding: “An individual’s tax affairs, whoever they are, are confidential.”
He added that the PM would publish his tax return “in due course”.
But five hours later, a No 10 spokesperson told Sky News: ‘The prime minister has never paid a fine to HMRC.’
Mr Sunak is facing pressure to sack Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi over the estimated £4.8m bill he set up with HMRC while he was chancellor under Liz Truss.
A week ago, Mr Sunak told MPs that Mr Zahawi had ‘already dealt with the matter comprehensively’ – but Downing Street later revealed the prime minister was unaware that the Conservative party chairman had paid a penalty to HMRC as part of the deal.
Mr. Sunak yes ordered an investigation from Sir Laurie Magnushis independent adviser for the interests of ministers, on the fact that Zahawi violated ministerial rules.
Zahawi told Sky News is “clearly defamed” on questions about his tax affairs – and that he has not “benefited” from an “offshore trust”.
Read more: What did Nadhim Zahawi do?
Labor said Mr Sunak should disclose whether he has ever paid a tax fine, while a Labor spokesman replied they would “get back to you” when asked if leader Sir Keir Starmer had ever paid one.
Questioned by the prime minister on Wednesday, Sunak was challenged for the second week in a row by Sir Keir over Zahawi’s tax affairs.
Sir Keir said Mr Sunak was too ‘weak’ to sack his party chairman.
But Mr Sunak said: “Of course, the politically expedient thing to do would be for me to say that the matter needs to be resolved by Wednesday noon.
“But I believe in fair and due process.”
Sir Keir made a veiled reference to Mr Sunak’s billionaire wife, Akshata Murty, who held non-domiciled status until the furor caused her to announce she would start paying UK tax on all her income world.
The Labor leader said: “We all know why the prime minister was reluctant to question his party chairman about family finances and tax avoidance.
“But his failure to sack him when the whole country can see what’s going on shows how hopelessly weak he is: a prime minister overseeing chaos, overwhelmed at every turn.”