PM faces major revolt on his “legacy” legislation as dozens of Conservatives are set to vote against the outright smoking ban

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The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak is bracing himself for a major Parliamentary revolt by Conservative backbenchers, including two former prime ministers and a string of former ministers, as he seeks to outlaw smoking for the young.

Simon Clarke the former chief secretary to the Treasury, took to the airwaves today to denounce the PM’s plans describing them as the “thin end of the wedge”, and “risked creating a black market”.

The former cabinet minister is expected to be joined by dozens of Conservative MPs from the libertarian wing of the Party in opposing the measures designed to stop Generation Alpha from ever being able to buy cigarettes or cigars.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme he said: “I don’t think an outright ban is a Conservative thing to do…

“I think it’s the thin end of the wedge which once allowed in will then start to spiral to lots of other things. So, let’s have an outright ban on fast food or an outright ban on alcohol. Once you start on the business of stopping people from doing things that are unhealthy for them then that is the definition of a slippery slope.”

Former Prime Ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson also voiced their opposition to the phased smoking ban, describing it as a “nanny state” and “absolutely nuts” respectively. While Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary and Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, have indicated they will vote against the legislation.

Mr Sunak’s problems have been made worse as it is understood that a number of Cabinet Ministers share the unease of their backbench colleagues. Reports suggest that leadership hopeful, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, was leading the charge against the legislation in Cabinet, while reports suggest several others may abstain.

One MP suggested to that opposition was widespread within the Government that the PM had to give his MPs a free vote to prevent the embarrassment of a large rebellion, but he [the PM] had decided to press ahead with the vote because this legislation “would be his legacy and what future generations would remember him for”.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill would make it illegal for anyone born after 2008 to ever buy cigarettes or other forms of combustible tobacco such as cigars and pipes, as well as clamping down on the UK’s boom e-cigarette market that some have claimed has helped millions of people quit smoking.

Despite the expected rebellion, the legislation is certain to pass as Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP have indicated their support for the ban, which also enjoys the support of Professor Sir Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England.

Professor Whitty, who has consistently rejected criticism of the ban, said that smoking was one of the largest causes of ill health in the country.

He told the BBC: “The vast majority of smokers wish they never started but become addicted at an early age and then become trapped…”

Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson is the Director of Team Britannia PR and a journalist.