Prime Ministerial hopeful Nadhim Zahawi blunders by tweeting that Shinzo Abe is DEAD while Japan’s ex-PM is still fighting for life
- The new Chancellor has been branded ‘hapless’ and ‘despicable’ for the blunder
- Mr Abe was shot in the back at a rally near Osaka by man with homemade gun
- Japanese authorities insisted that the former PM was fighting for his life today
- But Mr Zahawi said: ‘Shinzo Abe has died. May he rest in eternal peace’
- Two hours after tweet Mr Abe’s brother said he was getting a blood transfusion
Wannabe Prime Minister Nadhim Zahawi declared Shinzo Abe dead today when his family and the Japanese authorities insisted he was still fighting for his life as rivals gloated that his campaign to enter No 10 is already ‘falling apart’.
The new Chancellor has been branded ‘hapless’ and ‘despicable’ for the blunder this morning as the former Japanese premier is in intensive care after being shot at a campaign rally.
Abe, 67, who is Japan’s longest-serving PM having held office twice from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020, was shot around 11.30am local time in the city of Nara – near Osaka in western Japan – while addressing a crowd outside the train station.
A shooter carrying what appeared to be a homemade firearm fired twice – missing the first time – before hitting Mr Abe in the back with the bullet exiting his chest.
Medics described him as having ‘no vital signs’, while medics said he was ‘in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest’ – a phrase commonly used in Japan when someone has died but doctors have not officially pronounced it.
At around 6am UK time Mr Zahawi tweeted: ‘Heartbreaking news from Japan. PM Shinzo Abe has died after being shot by an attacker. We enter politics to serve and try and make the world a better place, a good man has lost his life in pursuit of that noble aim. May he rest in eternal peace’.
But half an hour later Japanese PM Fumio Kishida said his predecessor remains in a critical condition in hospital and he hopes he will survive the assassination attempt. Two hours after Mr Zahawi’s tweet the Mr Abe’s younger brother said he was still fighting and was receiving a blood transfusion to save his life.
Nadhim Zahawi, Chancellor of the Exchequer, attends the Spectator Summer Party 2022 in Westminster last night, stood next to Andrew Neil. Today he made a blunder over Shinzo Abe’s death
Mr Zahawi said he hoped Mr Abe will ‘rest in eternal peace’ – but the Japanese authorities and its new PM insisted he was still alive
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former and longest-serving Prime Minister, is feared dead after he was shot in the chest while giving a campaign speech in the city of Nara today
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a veteran of Japan’s armed forces, was tackled by security (pictured) and then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder
And after that update, the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: ‘Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones’ – but did not mention him passing away.
Mr Zahawi’s blunder us yet another bump in the road in his campaign, which some have claimed began months ago.
He was last night accused of duplicity for pledging to support Boris Johnson despite secretly plotting a leadership bid.
Johnson loyalists were furious as it emerged Mr Zahawi has spent months plotting with allies of election guru Sir Lynton Crosby on a secret plot to become Prime Minister.
They also saw treachery in the Chancellor’s letter calling on Mr Johnson to quit – which came just 36 hours after he accepted the PM’s offer of promotion from Education Secretary to replace Rishi Sunak at the Treasury. Mr Johnson’s supporters also took aim at Mr Sunak, with Jacob Rees-Mogg ridiculing his attempts to tackle inflation, and labelling him a ‘not very successful chancellor’. It raises the prospect of the PM’s backers trying to scupper the leadership ambitions of two of the stronger candidates.
People took to social media to hammer Mr Zahawi
Last night, one Johnson ally told the Daily Mail: ‘Nadhim Zahawi has been utterly duplicitous. On Wednesday night, he was telling everyone: Me and Boris are going to fight this together.
‘Then he comes out with that letter. His treachery hasn’t gone down well. Today he walked up to a group of Cabinet ministers… and they totally blanked him.’
The multi-millionaire married father-of-three was promoted to Chancellor after he threatened to quit the Cabinet if he was not given the job.
Mr Zahawi – worth up to £100 million – defended the PM on the airwaves on Wednesday morning, but by that evening was in No 10 privately telling Mr Johnson it was time to go. Yesterday morning, he went public with his call for the Prime Minister to quit, saying the country ‘deserves a Government that is not only stable, but which acts with integrity’.
Mr Zahawi, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock were among MPs brushing shoulders with media big wigs at political magazine the Spectator’s summer party.
Suspected shooter Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a military veteran, was tackled by security and arrested at the scene on suspicion of the attempted murder of Mr Abe – with police also confiscating what appeared to be a homemade firearm.
Witnesses reported hearing two shots while Abe was making a campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house. He then collapsed holding his chest, with his shirt smeared with blood.
Fumio Kishida, the current prime minister of Japan, called the shooting ‘absolutely unforgivable’ and said he is ‘praying’ that Abe survives.
It was a stunning development in a country with famously low levels of violent crime and tough gun laws, involving Japan’s best-known politician.
Abe – who served in office from 2006 to 2007 and then 2012 to 2020 – was giving a speech on behalf of his Liberal Party in the city of Nara ahead of parliamentary elections before he was shot (pictured)
Yamagami approached Abe from behind and then fired two shots, according to witnesses, who said the former Prime Minister collapsed after the second shot
Abe, 67, was giving a speech outside Nara train station ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections when the suspected shooter approached from behind, pulled out a homemade weapon, and opened fire
‘Former prime minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am,’ in the country’s western region of Nara, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
‘One man, believed to be the shooter, has been taken into custody. The condition of former prime minister Abe is currently unknown.
‘Whatever the reason, such a barbaric act can never be tolerated, and we strongly condemn it,’ Matsuno added.
The suspected gunman, who was tackled at the scene and arrested, is a former soldier who was in the Japanese self-defense forces and appears to have built the improvised weapon used in the shooting, Radio 4 reported.
Several Ministry of Defense officials confirmed that Yamagami had been working for the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years until around 2005.
It was reported that Abe had his security team around him during the speech on Friday, but the attacker was able to pull this gun out and shoot him at close range ‘without being checked.’
The former leader had been delivering a stump speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections when the sound of gunshots was heard, NHK and the Kyodo news agency said.
Gambling man Nadhim Zahawi was yesterday betting on the Tory party and the public forgiving him for standing by Boris Johnson and becoming Chancellor – and then delivering the fatal blow to his premiership all in 24 hours.
The Tory MP, a multi-millionaire married father-of-three, went from being Boris Johnson’s saviour to his assassin in the space of a day amid claims he has been secretly preparing his leadership campaign for months with the help of the PM’s own election guru.
One politics watcher described his actions over the past 24 hours as: ‘Caligula-esque sh*thousery’.
It is another calculated bet for the Tory MP whose risk taking in business has seen him compared to Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses and a contestant trying to impress Lord Sugar on The Apprentice.
But Peter Kellner, his former senior colleague at polling giant YouGov, the company Mr Zahawi founded and made millions from, said today: ‘My old friend, who I worked with for 10 years, has made a serious mistake – you do not chain yourself to a sinking ship’.
Political commentator Joe Murphy wrote in the Evening Standard: ‘In the end it took a politician as ruthless and ambitious as Boris himself to deliver the coup de grace’ and that the PM, who himself took down Theresa May, will understand ‘the brutal political necessity for Zahawi to commit regicide’.
The 55-year-old Tory MP’s rise is extraordinary given he arrived in Britain aged nine as a Kurdish refugee from Iraq after fleeing Saddam Hussein with his family and not speaking any English. He went on to make a fortune founding polling firm YouGov and building a £100million property portfolio.
Mr Zahawi was dramatically promoted from Education Secretary to Chancellor late on Tuesday night after Rishi Sunak quit. And he publicly defended the Prime Minister after being put in charge of the Treasury to firm up the Tory leader’s position.
But just a few hours later Mr Zahawi was joining other former loyalists at No 10 in trying to persuade Mr Johnson to quit and yesterday morning pulled the plug, telling the PM publicly to ‘do the right thing and go now’. Minutes later it emerged that the Prime Minister had finally agreed to resign because he had no Chancellor willing to back him.
On Wednesday night it was claimed that he has been secretly preparing a Tory leadership campaign with close allies of election guru Sir Lynton Crosby, the Australian strategist credited with winning Boris multiple elections.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi (pictured yesterday) following his appointment after Rishi Sunak resigned from the post. Today he knifed Boris Johnson in an extraordinary U-turn. He is married to wife Lana (together right in London on June 21) and they have three children
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured on Wednesday) finally agreed to quit being bombarded with more resignations and Mr Zahawi pulled his own support
A younger Nadhim Zahawi (right), who has a £100m property portfolio, is pictured in his flat in Brompton, West London, with designer Broosk Saib (left) in a flat he bought from Dutch supermodel Karen Mulder
The PM has admitted defeat half-an-hour after a shattering intervention from Nadhim Zahawi (pictured), who was only appointed on Tuesday night in the wake of Rishi Sunak’s departure
A portrait Nadhim Zahawi, when joint CEO of YouGov, with Chairman Peter Kellner (R). The polling business would make him millions. Mr Kellner yesterday said that his friend ‘made a serious mistake – you do not chain yourself to a sinking ship’
Mr Zahawi was summoned to Downing Street on Wednesday night and asked to take over at the Treasury after Boris Johnson refused to quit. The PM will resign as Tory leader
Mr Zahawi receives an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccination in Lewisham, South East London, on March 19. He was praised and promoted to Education Secretary for his work in rolling out the jab
The Chancellor has reportedly spent months working on plans that include proposals to cut corporation tax and VAT. Boris Johnson’s ex-strategist Mark Fullbrook is running the campaign, according to The Times. The plan is apparently ready to put into action and Mr Zahawi was prepared to resign this week if he had not been made Chancellor.
Friends have said that Mr Zahawi’s ‘real blood and passion was politics’ – but before being elected as Tory MP for Stratford-Upon-Avon MP in 2010 he dedicated himself to making a ‘f**k load of money’. Another friend in Parliament said: ‘He’s a sort of lovable wheeler-dealer type’, adding there is ‘a bit of Del Boy about him’.
Mr Zahawi, a married father-of-three, said on Wednesday he was backing Boris Johnson because he is ‘dedicated to the country that gave me everything’ – and denied he is bolstering his own personal ambition to be Prime Minister. But others have claimed otherwise.
It has never been plain sailing for the senior Tory. An early venture as a young entrepreneur, selling Teletubbies clothing at the height of the show’s fame, went bust and backers including former Tory grandee Jeffrey Archer, lost their money.
‘You know in your heart what the right thing to do is – go now’: Nadhim Zahawi’s letter to Boris Johnson in FULL
My number one priority has and always will be this great country. When asked to become Chancellor, I did it out of loyalty. Not to a man, but loyalty to this country and all it has given me.
The challenges Britain faces, be it inflation or Putin’s war in Ukraine, will not pause for anything, and it is vital that the major offices of state continue to function through a national crisis.
If people have thought poorly of me for that decision, it is criticism I am willing to shoulder.
Yesterday, I made clear to the Prime Minister alongside my colleagues in No10 that there was only one direction where this was going, and that he should leave with dignity.
Out of respect, and in the hopes that he would listen to an old friend of 30 years, I kept this counsel private.
I am heartbroken that he hasn’t listened and that he is now undermining the incredible achievements of this Government at this late hour.
No one will forget getting Brexit done, keeping a dangerous antisemite out of No 10, our handling of covid and our support for Ukraine in its hour of need.But the country deserves a Government that is not only stable, but which acts with integrity.
‘Prime Minister, you know in your heart what the right thing to do is, and go now’.
But he would become one of the richest politicians in the House of Commons after he helped found YouGov with friend Stephan Shakespeare having studied chemical engineering at University College London.
Who is the favourite to replace Boris Johnson as the next Tory leader?
Penny Mordaunt – 4/1
Rishi Sunak – 4/1
Ben Wallace – 8/1
Liz Truss – 8/1
Nadhim Zahawi – 9/1
Jeremy Hunt – 10/1
Tom Tugendhat – 11/1
George Eustice – 20/1
Michael Gove – 25/1
Dominic Raab – 28/1
Mark Harper – 40/1
Priti Patel – 40/1
Jacob Rees-Mogg – 80/1
Nadine Dorries – 200/1
In 2002 he took a gamble on ITV’s Pop Idol – the biggest show on TV at the time – that would make him even more money in a story friends use to explain his mindset in business and now politics.
Before the final between Will Young and Gareth Gates, the pundits were convinced that it would be Gates that would romp home.
But YouGov polling said otherwise, and he put thousands of pounds on Will Young to win, which he did, allowing the Chancellor to beat the bookies and pundits and makes a fortune.
Former YouGov head of political research Joe Twyman told Politico: ‘It tells you a lot about him. He really believed what we were doing was right, he was willing to take the risk, he enjoyed the showmanship and the fun of it all — but also he wanted to make f*** load of money.’
Not only did Nadhim win the bet, he also used to push YouGov’s credibility and three years later he is said to have made £5.7million when it floated.
One senior government figure said Zahawi as a calculated risk-taker – a claim made yesterday as he decided to back Boris Johnson with his leadership in peril.
‘He isn’t reckless. He makes sure the odds are in his favor before he makes a bet’, the insider said.
Former YouGov President Peter Kellner has said he would have made a ‘perfect’ contestant for TV game show The Apprentice, if the show starring Lord Sugar had existed in the 1980s and 1990s.
‘He was very sharp and shrewd in business terms’, he said, adding it was no surprise that he was a success as Vaccines Minister in the pandemic because ‘in a sense, the vaccine job is like an Alan Sugar challenge writ very large’.
He is now one of the favourites to replace Boris Johnson. Friend Tobias Ellwood, a sharp critic of Mr Johnson, has long said he would support him if he stands for leader.
He told Politico: ‘Too many people have got responsibility in Cabinet that arguably shouldn’t be there, given the changing environment from December 2019 to where we are today.
‘His promotion [to Education Secretary] recognises that we have high-calibre people within the ranks of parliament with skill sets that can and should be tapped into’.
Mr Zahawi was privately-educated at King’s College School in West London and University College London where he studied chemical engineering.
One of the wealthiest members of Parliament, he went on to be named ‘entrepreneur of the year’ by Ernst & Young and set up successful polling company YouGov.
He is said to have a property empire worth around £100million.
The father-of-three was elected MP in 2010 – the first Kurdish Iraqi to be elected to Parliament.
Zahawi went on to act as an aide to Lord Archer before heading into politics himself.
Despite initially backing Dominic Raab for Conservative party leader in 2019, he has been loyal to Mr Johnson ever since.
He was previously children’s minister from January 2018 to July 2019, during which time he attended the controversial Presidents Club Ball.
He was said to have been given a dressing down by the chief whip after complaints of sexism and harassment at the all-male gathering for the business elite.
During the MPs expenses scandal, he was forced to apologise for claiming taxpayers’ money to heat his stables on his Warwickshire estate.
Last year Mr Zahawi faced fresh scrutiny over his income from second jobs after using a legal loophole to shield his total earnings.
The new Chancellor earned more than £1.3 million from a role with Bermuda-listed Gulf Keystone from 2015 until he became a minister.
But his total income from second jobs since becoming an MP in 2010 is unknown because he funnelled it through a consultancy firm, Zahawi and Zahawi, which he set up with wife Lana before being elected MP for Stratford in 2010.
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