NADHIM Zahawi says his focus as newly appointed chancellor of the exchequer is fighting inflation and growing the economy.
The Stratford MP’s new job follows the shock resignation of former chancellor Rishi Sunak, together with health secretary Sajid Javid – leaving prime minister Boris Johnson fighting for his political life.
The senior cabinet members, who both quit within ten minutes of each other yesterday evening, delivered scathing attacks on Mr Johnson’s leadership in the wake of the on-going Chris Pincher controversey.
Mr Zahawi, who has been Stratford’s MP since 2010 and who was appointed education secretary in Mr Johnson’s cabinet last September, takes on the job of chancellor in the face of the current cost of living crisis.
Speaking live to the BBC this morning in his first interview since his appointment, the 55-year-old defended the prime minister over the Pincher affair.
He said Mr Johnson was right to apologise for Mr Pincher’s appointment as deputy chief whip and that ministers often made decisions at “warp speed” and as such also made some mistakes.
Mr Zahawi dismissed a poll conducted by market research firm YouGov – a company he actually co-founded – which found 69 per cent of people wanted the prime minster to go, as merely a “snapshot”of public opinion in the moment.
Mr Zhawai stressed the prime minister was focused, as he was, on the future. “Delivery, delivery, delivery” was how he summed up the prime minister’s aim.
On the economy, Mr Zahawi said: “We need to bear down on inflation because that is the greatest risk, especially to the most vulnerable in society.”
He continued, saying that after further interviews this morning, he would be going “back to the office to start rebuilding the economy and growing the economy”.
Mr Zahawi will be moving into the flat of the chancellor at number 11 Downing Street, but would not be drawn to comment on the possibility there could soon be a vacancy next door.
Mr Zhawai came to the attention of many in the country when he became known as ‘minister for vaccines’ at the height of the pandemic.