AFTER two weeks of mounting pressure and revelations about former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi's tax affairs, on Sunday, Rishi Sunak finally sacked the beleaguered Conservative chairman.

It came after an investigation found that Zahawi had made a serious breach of the ministerial code when he had failed to disclose that HMRC was investigating his tax affairs and that he had to pay a multi-million-pound penalty.

Zahawi then tendered a resignation letter which notably lacked any admission of wrongdoing or any apology or sign of contrition. Instead, he attacked the behaviour of the press.

When the story about his tax affairs first began to break, Zahawi sent legal threats to the Independent newspaper and to tax expert Dan Neidle who had publicised suggestions that the current chairman of the Conservative Party and minister without portfolio had a "problem in his tax affairs" that allowed him to benefit from an "offshore structure".

We now know that these reports were true. Zahawi was threatening legal action and claiming he was being “smeared” even while he was engaged with negotiations with the tax authorities which resulted in him having to pay a penalty running into millions of pounds.

Sunak now claims that he acted “decisively” to deal with the former chancellor, a claim which is as threadbare as his assertion that he intended to restore responsibility, accountability and integrity back to government after the serial sleaze and scandal of a Johnson administration which Sunak was at the heart of and whose excesses he helped to enable, no matter how much he wants the public to forget all that and “move on”.

It has become fashionable of late to refer to the powerful and wealthy networks which parasitise the Russian state as an “oligarchy”, but that is precisely what we have in the UK. Hugely wealthy individuals like Sunak and Zahawi form part of a cosy network of wealth and influence whose members scratch one another's backs and determine public policy.

Boris Johnson is yet again in the spotlight over a loan of £800,000 facilitated by Richard Sharp, a chum who Johnson later appointed as chair of the BBC. Last week, Johnson insisted that Sharp “knows absolutely nothing about my personal finances – I can tell you that for ding-dang sure”.

Then, at the weekend, the Sunday Times published a letter reportedly given to Johnson by senior civil servant Simon Case which said: "Given the imminent announcement of Richard Sharp as the new BBC chair, it is important that you no longer ask his advice about your personal financial matters." Who would have thought it? Boris Johnson lying again.

This network of the rich and well-connected shapes public policy in its own interests. The real governing party in Britain is the well-heeled Conservative dinner party.

Former Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager and banker Rishi Sunak is reversing measures put in place to restrict the excesses of the financial sector following the financial crisis of 2008. The governor of the Bank of England has warned against this but Sunak is determined to press ahead with risky reforms which could make huge fortunes for a small number of people.

Meanwhile, he has set his face against wealth taxes even as he tells us that there is not enough money to give nurses and other essential public sector workers much-needed pay rises. There is plenty of money, but Sunak and the Conservatives prefer it to go into the already bloated offshore accounts of wealthy individuals.

Never apologise, never explain, and close ranks to protect fellow members of the ruling clique. This seems to be the governing principle of Conservative Britain. Far from acting “decisively” about Zahawi, Sunak stalled and prevaricated until the political damage to himself of not acting was greater than the political damage to his standing within the Conservative Party of taking action. Serious questions remain about what Sunak knew and when he knew it.

A similar tale is currently unfolding about the deputy prime minister Dominic Raab. Raab is subject to multiple allegations of bullying of his subordinates, which he denies, yet Sunak continues to defend him and will continue to do so right up until his failure to act becomes more damaging to him personally than the damage taking action against Raab will cause to his already weak position in the Tory Party. Sunak will then claim that he acted “decisively” and tell us all to move on.

Meanwhile, the rich and well-connected attendees of Conservative dinner parties will meet and exchange stories of their days at private schools while they continue to shape government policy that furthers their own interests and bank balances and entrenches their death-tight grip on the neck of the public interest.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

To receive our full newsletter including this analysis straight to your email inbox, click HERE and click the "+" sign-up symbol for the REAL Scottish Politics