Daily Mail

Tory unity up in smoke (again!)

Blow for Rishi as 59 of his MPs – like Kemi – vote against cigarette ban

- By Harriet Lane Deputy Political Editor

KEMI Badenoch led a major ministeria­l backlash last night against Rishi Sunak’s plan to ban young people from ever smoking.

almost half of his MPs failed to support his flagship policy for a ‘smoke-free generation’.

The Business Secretary was among 59 Tories who voted against the proposals in the Tobacco and Vaping Bill over concerns on equality and enforcemen­t.

and some 106 Conservati­ves abstained, including Commons leader Penny Mordaunt.

While some were unable to cast a vote due to foreign travel, including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, the scale of abstention­s means only just over half of Tory MPs – 180 – backed the Bill.

Six ministers voted against it, along with a number of senior Tories, such as Robert Jenrick and Suella Braverman, seen as Tory leadership contenders, as well as former PM liz Truss.

But labour and other opposition parties – including the liberal Democrats who want to legalise cannabis – backed the Bill, allowing it to pass comfortabl­y. The legislatio­n will ban tobacco sales to anybody born on or after January 1, 2009. This means children aged 15 or younger today will never legally be sold a cigarette in England.

It also gives the Government powers to tackle youth vaping, with restrictio­ns on flavours plus new rules on packaging and selling vapes. Mr Sunak had made it a free vote – allowing MPs to decide according to their conscience rather than the party line – but the scale of the vote against is a major blow for the PM.

Ms Truss branded it a ‘virtuesign­alling piece of legislatio­n’ that she said was the result of a ‘technocrat­ic establishm­ent’ that aims to ‘limit people’s freedom’.

Mrs Badenoch – a leading contender to replace Mr Sunak as Tory leader – had said that while she thinks smoking is an ‘unpleasant habit’ that is ‘costly for both the individual and society’, she would vote against it. She posted: ‘The principle of equality under the law is a fundamenta­l one. It underpins many of my beliefs.

‘We should not treat legally competent adults differentl­y in this way, where people born a day apart will have permanentl­y different rights. among other reasons, it will create difficulti­es with enforcemen­t.’

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘Smoking claims 80,000 lives a year and it costs the nation nearly £17billion a year through ill-health and sickness.’

Health Secretary Victoria atkins admitted that she understood concerns about the Government ‘ banning things’ but added: ‘There is no liberty in addiction.’

‘Limit people’s freedom’

 ?? ?? Rebel: Kemi Badenoch heads to the Commons yesterday
Rebel: Kemi Badenoch heads to the Commons yesterday

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