Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con): Does the Prime Minister believe that when the European Union forces my constituents to buy 20 cigarettes at a time, rather than their current 10, it will reduce the number they smoke?
The Prime Minister: It does not, on the face of it, sound a very sensible approach. I was not aware of the specific issue, so let me have a look at it and get back to my hon. Friend.
It seems that the Prime Minister was unaware of the big vote in Brussels yesterday. Perhaps he was unaware of the Tobacco Products Directive in general. It wouldn't be surprising if Anna Soubry failed to mention it to him since she behaved as if she was judge, jury and executioner in her time as Minister for Public Health. She failed to submit the legislation to parliamentary scrutiny and then came up with lame excuses which she later had to admit didn't stand up to, well, scrutiny.
Two points stand out. Firstly, it would have been nice to have had a public debate about this legislation before MPs read about it in the papers this morning. The media must take much of the blame here. If the Tobacco Products Directive is important enough to be front page news today, presumably readers would have been interested in hearing about it before it was a fait accompli. Y'know, when they could actually do something about it.
Secondly, the fact that the Prime Minister was unaware of what was contained in the Tobacco Products Directive rather undermines the idea that Lynton Crosby is constantly whispering in his ear about matters related to tobacco. Can we ditch that little conspiracy theory now?