A conservative peer has become the latest member of the Conservative Party to invite Nadim Al Zahawi to be considered for his position.
Lord Hayward said the Tory leader should consider “stepping aside” while parliament’s ethics watchdog investigates his tax affairs.
“We don’t know what the timelines for the investigation are, and I think that’s the key,” he told Sky News.
“I think he should consider whether to step down for the investigation period.”
It comes after former minister Caroline Knox said there was “So many unanswered questions.” On the tax dispute, he said Zahawi should “step aside and let the investigation run its course”.
The investigation by new ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus is expected to focus on whether the ministerial secretary breached ministerial law by an estimated £4.8m. HMRC settlement he did while he was a consultant, But it could extend to his past tax arrangements and whether he lied to the media.
Rishi Sunak said there were “questions that need answering” but she has been criticized for resisting calls for his sacking.
It is not clear what the prime minister knew about Mr. Zahawi’s dealings with the tax office when he appointed him to his cabinet in October.
Lord Hayward is also a pollster, advising previous Conservative governments heading into the election.
He said the issues Mr Sunak was facing at the moment, including Mr Zahawi’s tax affairs, were working hand in hand with the ongoing strikes to “flatline” the Conservative Party’s popularity.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer is likely to seize the fallout from Zahawi’s multimillion-pound settlement at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
During Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Mr Sunak said that Mr Al Zahawi had “really addressed this issue in its entirety” as questions had been raised about his tax affairs.
But that was before a Cabinet minister issued a statement admitting he had paid what HMRC said “was due” after it “disagreed over the exact allocation” of shares in YouGov – the polling firm he co-founded – Error note that it is “careless, not intentional”.
Sky News understands that as part of a settlement with HMRC, Mr Al Zahawi has paid a fine to the tax collector.
Sources close to Al-Zahawi said that he “does not concede at all.”
In a statement on Monday, he said: “I am confident that I have acted correctly throughout and look forward to answering any and all questions set out in Sir Lowry’s formal hearing.”