Published On: Tue, Apr 16th, 2024

Kemi Badenoch announces plan to vote against Rishi Sunak | Politics | News

The pending Tory rebellion over this evening’s smoking ban vote was handed a major boost this evening as top Cabinet Minister Kemi Badenoch pledged to oppose the Prime Minister.

The vote, set to take place at 7pm, is expected to see one of the largest Tory MP rebellions of Mr Sunak’s premiership to date, with between 50 and 100 of his own MPs set to vote against his flagship policy.

While a string of high-profile Tories spent the day pledging to vote against the legislation, this evening’s confirmation from Ms Badenoch is the most high-profile serving minister to come out against the legislation so far.

In a series of tweets, the Business and Trade Secretary said that while Mr Sunak’s intentions with the Bill “are honest and mark him out as a leader who doesn’t duck the thorny issues… I have significant concerns”.

“The principle of equality under the law is a fundamental one. It underpins many of my personal 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. This burden will fall not on the state but on private businesses

“Smoking rates are already declining significantly in the UK and I think there is more we can do to stop children taking up the habit.

“However, I do not support the approach this bill is taking and so will be voting against it.”

Shortly after, senior Foreign Office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she has concluded she can also not support the Bill in its present form.

Ms Badenoch, widely thought to covet her party’s leadership after the General Election, thanked Mr Sunak for making the crunch Commons showdown a ‘free vote’.

The move by Mr Sunak and his chief whip means MPs can vote with their conscience and there are no repercussions for voting against their party leader.

It is a tactic traditionally used with issues of morality or conscience, such as abortion.

Ms Badenoch is joined in opposition by both Mr Sunak’s two predecessors as PM, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, who have spoken out against the policy in recent days.

Former Levelling Up Secretary Sir Simon Clarke said he simply cannot understand “how it is that a “Conservative Prime Minister has thought it was appropriate to bring forward legislation which seems to me as the opposite of the reason why we in this house are sent here, which is to defend ever hold the principle of individual choice and individual freedom”.

Former Tory Party chairman Jake Berry said he will join the rebellion, as: “freedom to do just what the Government wants you to do is not freedom at all”.

“We have to accept that as people grow older, even if they make bad decisions they are still their decision to make”.

Former Tory Party deputy chairman Brendan Clarke-Smith warned that a ban on alcohol could be next, as could a ban on takeaways.

“Both of these are bad for us when they’re not done responsibly, but we are adults. These are our choices. These are not the state’s choice. We need to get back to trusting adults to make their own decisions in life.”

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