After being fired from the UK government, Nadhim Zahawi’s constituents will have the chance to decide whether he should continue serving as an MP at the next election, a minister has indicated.
Health minister Helen Whately was questioned on BBC Breakfast on whether Zahawi should continue serving as the MP for Stratford-on-Avon, despite being found to have repeatedly violated the ministerial code by failing to disclose that HM Revenue & Customs was looking into his tax affairs.
“Nadhim was elected as an MP by his constituents back at the last general election,” she said. “We are all accountable to our constituents and it is not that long again until there will be another general election in which voters will again make those decisions.”
But where exactly does Zahawi serve as an MP, and when will voters there get their next chance to make their voices heard? Here is everything you need to know.
Where is Nadhim Zahawi an MP?
Zahawi was elected as the MP for Stratford-on-Avon in 2010. He has held onto his seat ever since, subsequently winning the vote in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
The Warwickshire constituency is centred on the town of Stratford-on-Avon - which, due to its status as the birthplace and final resting place of William Shakespeare, is a popular tourist destination - but also encompasses the surrounding areas, including the towns of Alcester and Henley-in-Arden.
At the 2019 general election, Zahawi won 60.6% of the votes for a total of 33,343. The Liberal Democrats’ Dominic Skinner placed second, with 13,371 votes (24.3%).
Since the 1950s, the constituency has always returned a Conservative MP. It was briefly held by a Labour MP between 1995 and 1997. However, Alan Howarth had been elected as a Conservative in 1983, before defecting.
With the exception of a somewhat close by-election in 1963, the Conservatives have consistently won majorities of more than 20% in the constituency.
Up until 1970, Labour always came second; in every succeeding general election from 1970 to 2010, the Liberal/Liberal Democratic parties came second and Labour third.
Only once has another party finished in the top three or saved their deposits, and that was in 2015 when UKIP finished second with a little over 13% of the vote. Since then, Labour finished second in 2017, and the Liberal Democrats in 2019.
When is the next election?
As it stands, the next general election is not expected to take place until 2024. However, there have been calls for Zahawi to stand down as an MP, a move which could trigger a by-election for Stratford-on-Avon much sooner.
But many high-ranking Conservative members - including Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove - have said Zahawi should “absolutely not” resign as an MP.
On the other side of the Commons, the Liberal Democrats have called on Zahawi to resign. Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Given this was a serious breach of the ministerial code, Nadhim Zahawi must also do the right thing and resign as an MP. He has shown he is unfit to serve in Cabinet and unfit to serve the people of Stratford-on-Avon.”
The party has also written to Rishi Sunak saying he should now strip Zahawi of the Tory whip if he refuses to quit as an MP. If the Prime Minister were to strip Zahawi of the whip, he would still be able to serve Stratford-on-Avon as an independent.
Sunak sacked the Conservative Party chairman early on Sunday (29 January) morning, shortly after an ethics inquiry found Zahawi had committed a “serious breach” in the handling of his tax affairs.