Bahama Times

Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

Why is Rishi Sunak being investigated over wife's shares and could the PM be suspended?

Why is Rishi Sunak being investigated over wife's shares and could the PM be suspended?

An inquiry is being held into whether Rishi Sunak failed to declare his wife holds shares in a childcare company that could benefit from the government's plans to get people to become childminders.

The prime minister is under investigation by the standards commissioner over a possible failure to declare an interest.

Sky News looks at what this means and what could be the fallout for Rishi Sunak and his government.

What is Rishi Sunak being investigated for?

Downing Street sources say the inquiry relates to shares held by the prime minister's wife in the company Koru Kids - an agency that will likely benefit from government plans to incentivise people to become childminders.

The allegation is, essentially, that Mr Sunak was not transparent enough about the connection he has - through his wife - to a firm that would benefit from a government policy.

When did this breach happen?

It is hard to know exactly as the standards commissioner gives few details but it is likely the inquiry will look at an appearance the prime minister made at the liaison committee in March.

While being questioned about the incentives being offered to childcare agencies, Mr Sunak was asked if there was anything he wanted to declare.

He replied: "No, all of my disclosures are declared in the normal way."

The prime minister later wrote to the committee acknowledging the shares held by his wife.

But part of this standards inquiry may focus on whether this information should have been flagged up more clearly during the committee hearing.

Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty at a health hub in Cornwall in February

What do the rules say?

This investigation relates to paragraph six of the MPs' code of conduct.

This part of the rulebook states that MPs should be "open and frank in declaring any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its committees".

Making a declaration is different to registering an interest and involves flagging up relevant information during parliamentary proceedings.

This is usually done by verbally stating what the interest is or advising that a relevant interest is listed on a text register.

In terms of what counts as a "relevant interest" that needs declaring, the code says it does include "indirect financial interests, such as the financial interests of a spouse or partner".

The rules exist so there is transparency about any private links politicians may have that could be seen to influence their actions in office.

What could happen to the prime minister after the investigation?

The standards commissioner, currently the lawyer Daniel Greenberg CB, is the official watchdog responsible for monitoring the MPs' code of conduct and investigating potential breaches.

He will investigate and decide if Mr Sunak has broken the code.

If he concludes he has but the breach is at the less serious end of the spectrum, then he can conclude the matter through what is known as the "rectification process".

This is a more private process where the MP acknowledges and apologises for the breach and outlines the steps they are taking to make sure it does not happen again.

More serious matters can be passed to the committee on standards, a group made up of MPs and lay members who will reach their own conclusion on the breach, and potentially recommend a sanction.

In theory, these can range from an apology on the floor of the Commons right up to a suspension from the house. Any sanction would have to be approved by MPs.

Could the prime minister be suspended from the Commons?

In theory, yes. But while it is hard to predict what will happen without knowing the specifics, looking back at previous sanctions that have been handed down suggests MPs whose only breach is a failure to register or declare an interest generally are not suspended.

Apologies to the house are more common.

However, as Mr Sunak eventually set out the interest in his letter to the liaison committee, the commissioner may be more lenient and choose to resolve any breach through his own process.

That said, the current commissioner is relatively new and so we really have little idea of how he will choose to address a matter that relates to the most senior member of the government.

The PM could be suspended from the House of Commons but it is more likely he will have to apologise

Should the PM have registered this interest in writing?

Not on the MPs' register of interests. The code of conduct for members only requires financial interests like this to be declared when relevant, rather than registered.

However, there is another register that MPs who are ministers have to fill out and this is stricter when it comes to relevant interests connected to spouses, partners or close family members.

Mr Sunak's letter to the liaison committee suggests his wife's shares may well appear on this register as Number 10 say it has been flagged to the Cabinet Office.

The issue is that the most recent copy of this register was published in May 2022 and so more recent interests lodged by ministers have not yet been made public. Downing Street says the updated register will be released shortly.

What political impact could this have?

A lot of this will clearly hinge on whether Mr Sunak is found to have broken the rules or not and what sanction - if any - he is handed.

But still, headlines about more potential breaches of the rulebook will not be welcomed by Downing Street.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock is one of six Tory, or former Tory MPs being investigated by the commissioner

The standards commissioner is now looking into six MPs for possible breaches of the rules. All of them are either sitting Tory MPs, or former Tory MPs currently suspended from the party.

Given this, it is not surprising opposition parties are using this inquiry to rekindle allegations of "Tory sleaze" and have accused the prime minister of failing in his promise to restore integrity to politics.

There is another political risk for Mr Sunak though. Critics have accused the prime minister of being "out of touch" because of his wealth and the wealth of his family.

Given this, more stories about the financial interests of those close to him have the potential to wound Mr Sunak on a vulnerable political front.


Related Articles

Bahama Times
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner