An audience member on BBC Question Time put a Conservative MP on the back foot with her unusually gracious attack on the government.
The programme, which this week came from Scunthorpe, was dominated by a discussion over Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs, which is the latest scandal to engulf the Tory government.
MP Jake Berry, the party’s former chairman, featured on the panel, and conceded his successor should stand down while the issue is probed.
But he appeared disconcerted as one woman picked up on the issue of trust, and ditched the confrontational style the programme is notable for.
She said: “I am a local GP, and trust is such a vital component of my profession. No disrespect to you, sir, and I don’t mean to embarrass you at all. But we’ve had so many incidents, from Matt Hancock to Boris Johnson to now Nadhim Zahawi, and lots of others. I just really struggle to understand how we can trust the Conservative Party. And like I said, I don’t mean to embarrass you at all.”
“So politely put,” said host Fiona Bruce, as all Berry could do was smile.
Zahawi, the Tory Party chairman, has admitted paying a penalty as part of an estimated £4.8 million settlement with tax collectors.
The prime minister’s ethics adviser is investigating if he broke the rules for ministers as Rishi Sunak continued to resist calls to sack him.
Johnson – who was fined for lockdown rule-breaking and faces an inquiry into whether he lied to the commons over partygate – was forced to announce his resignation as Tory leader and, ultimately, PM in July after cabinet allies turned on him with a series of resignations.
The final straw was questions about his judgment over the Chris Pincher affair, after the then-Tory whip was the centre of drunken groping allegations.
That came on top of Johnson’s attempts to change the rules to prevent the suspension of then-Conservative MP Owen Paterson after he broke lobbying rules.
Hancock, then health secretary, broke coronavirus social distancing rules during the pandemic by having an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo. It was revealed on Thursday he pocketed £320,000 for his appearance on I’m a Celebrity – but has only donated a fraction of the fee to charity, despite promises.
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