Who were the prominent Tory MPs to oppose Sunak’s smoking ban? | Smoking

Rishi Sunak has suffered a further blow to his authority as almost half of his own MPs refused to vote for his plan to make it illegal for anyone born in 2009 or later to buy tobacco products in the UK.

A total of 57 Tories walked through the no lobby on Tuesday evening, while 106 abstained or were absent – meaning that of 347 sitting Conservatives, just 178 (51%) backed the bill.

Among the opponents were some MPs reportedly with leadership ambitions: Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary; Suella Braverman, the former home secretary; and Robert Jenrick, the former Home Office minister.

The former prime minister Liz Truss also voted against the legislation along with several serving ministers: Alex Burghart, the Cabinet Office minister; Steve Baker, the Northern Ireland minister; Julia Lopez, the culture minister; Lee Rowley, the communities minister; and Andrew Griffith, the science minister.

They were joined by the former Conservative deputy party chairman Lee Anderson, as well as George Galloway and seven DUP MPs.

Kemi Badenoch

The business secretary was the only cabinet minister to vote against the proposed smoking ban. Just before the vote, she took to X to say she agreed with the policy’s intentions but argued: “We should not treat legally competent adults differently in this way, where people born a day apart will have permanently different rights”, and also cited the difficulties she thought businesses would have enforcing any ban.

Badenoch later downplayed suggestions that her decision demonstrated she was posturing for a future Tory leadership bid. She told LBC it was “a shame” people would view it that way.

Suella Braverman

The former home secretary and controversy seem to go hand in hand. She dashed back from a controversial rightwing conference in Brussels, after a local mayor ordered the police to shut it down, to vote against the bill.

Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary by Sunak in November, recently ruled herself out of a Tory leadership bid but has fired a series of political grenades at the prime minister in recent weeks.

Liz Truss

Opposition to the plans was led by the former prime minister, who made a speech in the Commons lashing out at “virtue-signalling” and “finger-wagging, nannying control freaks”.

Truss has been vocal recently as she promotes her new book. Her closest allies also voted with her including her former party chairman, Jake Berry, former ministers Simon Clarke, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Alec Shelbrooke, as well as Craig Whittaker, who was her deputy chief whip during her brief stint in Downing Street.

Robert Jenrick

The former immigration minister, who is believed to harbour leadership ambitions and has become increasingly popular among hardliners, joined Badenoch in declaring his opposition to the plan on social media.

He wrote on X: “I believe in personal freedom. Let’s educate more and ban less. I also believe in the principle of equality under the law.”

In January, Jenrick, who resigned from Sunak’s government over the PM’s “weak” Rwanda deportation bill – refused to rule out a bid for the leadership of the Tory party.

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