Norwegian minister resigns over commuter housing scandal

Labour deputy leader Hadia Tajik resigned from her role as Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion on Wednesday in the wake of a housing scandal.

File photo of Labour deputy leader Hadia Tajik
Hadia Tajik, pictured speaking in a file photo, resigned from her ministerial role over a commuter housing scandal. Photo by Arbeiderpartiet on Flickr.

Labour Party deputy leader Hadia Tajik has resigned after it was revealed that she received tax-free commuter housing between 2006 and 2010 on the basis of a rental contract that was never enforced.

“I’m sorry I made a mistake and have disappointed many. I apologise for that. I’m sorry I did not handle it better before. It is my fault,” she said at a press conference.  

She received the tax exemption because she said she was renting a studio from her parent’s neighbours, with the lease making her exempt from being taxed on the commuter home.

However, she never lived in the studio or paid rent for the property, newspaper VG reports.

Tajik had claimed that she was entitled to tax-free commuter housing as she had housing expenses while living at home with her parents in Rogaland.

She has said that she will pay back any tax owed and will continue serving in parliament as an MP for Rogaland as well as remaining in the post of Labour Party deputy leader.

Under certain conditions, MPs in Norway can receive housing covered by the state if they do not live close to parliament.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has said he agrees with Tajik’s decision to resign.

“As Hadia has said, she sees that she has made several mistakes related to the fact that she had tax-free commuter housing. I trust Hadia and believe her story, but I agree with her decision,” Støre told news wire NTB.

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Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre met his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Friday, where the pair signed a joint declaration on strategic cooperation between the two countries. 

Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre visited Downing Street on Friday and met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where the pair signed a declaration of cooperation between the two countries. 

“Britain is a good neighbour and close ally. We have a long tradition of close cooperation. The British are now outside the EU, and bilateral cooperation is becoming even more important than before,” Støre said in a statement on the government’s website

The joint declaration on bilateral strategic cooperation outlines defence and security, the climate and environment, research and innovation and education and culture as issues the two countries wish to cooperate on in the future. 

Støre’s visit was the first bilateral meeting of the countries’ PMs since Brexit. The pair also discussed the green shift, the war in Ukraine and defence. 

Støre also arranged a round table conference on energy, the climate and business with the UK Minister of Trade, Kwasi Kwarteng, and a number of representatives from Norwegian and British firms. 

“The green transition is important for our two countries. I spoke about our great ambitions for offshore wind, and this is one of many areas where Norway and the United Kingdom can cooperate more,” Støre said. 

Earlier this week, the Norwegian government announced that it would build 1,500 offshore wind turbines by 2040

Last year, the UK and Norway signed a post-Brexit trade deal, which the Norwegian government said was the largest free trade agreement the country had entered into outside of its arrangement with the European Economic Area.