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11 April 2022updated 12 Apr 2022 8:49am

Can Rishi Sunak halt his decline?

The big question Conservatives are asking is whether there are further revelations about the Chancellor to come.

By Ailbhe Rea

Rishi Sunak has referred himself to the government’s ethics chief in the ongoing controversy over his wife’s tax arrangements and his own US green card.

After a bruising week during which he reportedly considered resigning, the Chancellor’s attempt to move on from the story comes in the form of a letter to the Prime Minister, asking Christopher Geidt, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests, to review all of his declarations since he became a minister, and to “reach his own judgement as to whether all my interests were properly declared”. 

Sunak’s own request for a review of his interests has put him on the front foot against Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, who had written to the Prime Minister asking for the same thing hours before. 

But the big question Conservatives are asking, scattered across the country and abroad for the Easter recess, is whether there is more of this story to come. People are not so interested in the technicalities of Sunak’s declarations of interest – the understanding around Westminster is that he declared everything (or indeed “over-declared”, as one source to a weekend paper put it) when he was appointed as minister, and it is a question for the officials around him as to why those details weren’t put on formal registers.

The question instead is whether the whiff around Sunak and his wife’s tax affairs will slowly ebb away, or if more revelations await. What lies behind the careful wording used by Sunak and his wife in recent days – that she pays UK tax on UK earnings, and “international tax on international income”? Whether that wording conceals further embarrassments for Sunak is a weakness the opposition – and maybe also Sunak’s critics within the Conservative Party – will be prodding in the coming days.

This piece first appeared in the Morning Call newsletter; subscribe here.

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