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Nadhim Zahawi’s dishonourable abstention

28 March 2019

2:20 PM

28 March 2019

2:20 PM

Last night, before the results of the indicative votes were announced, MPs voted on a Statutory Instrument which aimed to change the date of Brexit in domestic law.

As you’d expect for a vote of such importance, a three-line-whip was placed on all Tory MPs to support the secondary legislation, and to prevent a ‘clash’ taking place between EU and UK law. Despite this, 93 Tory MPs voted against changing the date, and 67 defied the whip by abstaining, including 5 Cabinet ministers.


Among these rebels was government minister for children and families, Nadhim Zahawi, who decided to abstain on this pivotal vote. This was a clear break with collective responsibility, but as of writing, there is no sign yet that Zahawi (or any of his other colleagues) will be resigning from the government.

Which somewhat confused Mr Steerpike. After all, when several cabinet members broke the whip to abstain on a no-deal Brexit vote earlier this month, it was Zahawi who congratulated the one minister who did resign out of principle, Sarah Newton, writing:

If Newton made the ‘honourable’, ‘principled’ decision to resign, Mr Steerpike wonders how you’d describe Zahawi’s own decision to stay in his plush ministerial job.


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