The Plain Packaging saga may not be over. Simon Clark writes:
I can now reveal – from a good source – that the announcement by public health minister Jane Ellison surprised even George Osborne who wasn’t consulted.
If that’s true it’s extraordinary, given how much revenue the Government could potentially lose to illicit traders, not to mention the cost of fighting the tobacco companies in court.
Another source reports that the decision to go ahead with plain packaging was taken by the PM who considers it “feel good politics”.
And here seems to be something of a revolt brewing among Tory MPs, according to Guido Fawkes in the Sun on Sunday:
Nannying Tory health minister Jane Ellison has caused fury amongst her colleagues by agreeing to push through Labour backed plans for plain packaging on cigarettes before the next election.
“Four letter word, starts in S and ends in T” was the ringing endorsement of one colleague. “She is not a conservative” claims another, whilst another simply added “She’s a wrong ‘un’.”
Guido hears that Ellison may not have the last laugh. Not only will there be a huge rebellion on the right, plans for a very well funded campaign to unseat her in her marginal south-west London seat of Battersea are already afoot.
Tory MPs to campaign against a Tory MP? That would be fun.
And if the chancellor, George Osborne, didn’t know about the measure, who did?
There’s shades of Anna Soubry about this. In July 2013, I wrote:
One has to wonder who governs Britain, that these vicious people feel they have the right to introduce legislation by hook or by crook, regardless of the government’s stated position.
It certainly fits with Anna Soubry overriding parliamentary scrutiny in order to ensure that the UK remained able to introduce plain packaging.
But why are they in such a hurry? And why have they set about banning smoking in cars as well (which, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been debated at all)? It’s almost as if they’re working to a scheduled (EU-wide?) rolling programme of bans, all designed to demonise and suppress a venerable culture.
It’s really as if health ministers take their orders from somewhere else.