Anna Soubry

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The Right Honourable
Anna Soubry
Anna Soubry MP MOD 45156137.jpg
Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise
In office
11 May 2015 – 15 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Matt Hancock (Business and Enterprise)
Succeeded by Margot James (Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility)
Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans
In office
14 July 2014 – 11 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Sec. of State Michael Fallon
Preceded by Andrew Murrison
Succeeded by Mark Lancaster
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans
In office
7 October 2013 – 14 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Mark Francois
Succeeded by Mark Lancaster
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health
In office
4 September 2012 – 7 October 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Anne Milton
Succeeded by Jane Ellison
Member of Parliament
for Broxtowe
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Nick Palmer
Majority 4,287 (8.0%)
Personal details
Born (1956-12-07) 7 December 1956 (age 59)
Lincoln, England
Political party Conservative (Before 1981; 1988–present)
Social Democrats (1981–1988)
Children 2
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Website Official website

Anna Mary Soubry[1] (born 7 December 1956) is a British Conservative Party politician. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire since 2010.

Soubry was Minister for Small Business from the 2015 general election until July 2016, also attending meetings of the Cabinet, but has now returned to the backbenches. She had previously served as a junior minister at the Ministry of Defence (from 2013 to 2015) and the Department of Health (2012 to 2013). The Independent's Simon Carr has stated that "she has a record of unusually free speech".[2]

Early life[edit]

Soubry was born, the daughter of David Soubry,[3] a Nottinghamshire garage-owner, in Lincoln Hospital, Lincolnshire (where her mother, Frances Coward/Soubry, worked) and was brought up in Dunham-on-Trent and Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire.[4] Soubry attended the Henry Hartland Grammar school from 1968 to 1970. In 1970 it became the Hartland Comprehensive and she stayed there until 1975. She graduated in law from the University of Birmingham in 1979.[5]

Professional career[edit]

Soubry was a journalist from 1981 until 1995 and also reported on and presented several regional and networked TV programmes, including Grampian Television's North Tonight in the North of Scotland and the East Midlands regional news programme, Central News East. Soubry also presented and reported Granada Television's This Morning in the late 1980s. She returned to Liverpool's Albert Dock in October 2013 for the This Morning 25-year anniversary party.[6] She was called to the bar in 1995 and is a member of the Criminal Bar Association.[7]

Personal life[edit]

She is a single mother of two children.[8]

Political career[edit]

Soubry was involved in student politics in the 1970s, becoming the only Conservative member of the National Union of Students' executive committee.[8] She left the Conservatives and joined the SDP soon after its formation in 1981.

Soubry was the Conservative Party candidate for the Gedling constituency in the United Kingdom general election of 2005. During the campaign, she said she was "ashamed" of living in Nottingham as it had a bad reputation for crime.[9] She said she wasn't ashamed of the people of Nottingham, but, instead, was ashamed of what had happened to the city.[9]

Soubry was chosen as an "A-List candidate" and in 2006 was selected for the nearby Broxtowe Parliamentary seat.[10] In a debate in front of sixth formers in 2006, she said an honest debate was needed to stop people taking Class A drugs and she supported the legalisation of cannabis.[11] Soubry was one of the 49% of Conservative MPs who entered parliament in 2010, she is regarded as "one of the most formidable communicators of the new intake" but is not a 'Thatcherite'.[12]
In June 2010, Soubry was elected as a Conservative member of the Justice Select Committee,[13] but is no longer on it.[14]

She was a strong supporter of the Equal Marriage Bill stating at the time that she was "very much in favour of legalising Same Sex Marriage".[15] She voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 at both readings.[16]

Constituency issues[edit]

Tram system[edit]

In June 2010, Soubry met the transport minister Norman Baker and called for the £400m extension to the Nottingham Express Transit tram system to be scrapped saying the money would be better spent on the A453 road. David Thornhill of the Campaign for Better Transport expressed astonishment at her opinion and said the tram was definitely better value for money.[17] Soubry said she was pro-tram, but that the tram route through her constituency was "fundamentally flawed". Broxtowe Conservatives had always opposed the route.[18] A subsequent report by the Campaign identified Nottingham as "the least car dependent city in England" and noted the expanding tram system.[19]

In July 2013, Soubry criticised Nottingham City Council leader Jon Collins over his refusal to meet her and others to discuss compensation for shops and businesses in the constituency which faced closure due to the tram works.[20] Collins subsequently agreed to meet her,[21] and the outcome was a review into the compensation packages available for affected businesses.[22]

Slavery row[edit]

In July 2010, Soubry was criticised for employing a member of Nottingham Conservative Future, for three months, who in 2008 had faced a police probe after holding up a banner calling for the return of slavery.[23] The man, who was 20 at the time, was president of the University of Nottingham Conservative Association. Soubry said she was aware of his background but he had made a full apology and "regretted doing something so stupid".[23]

Royal Mail privatisation[edit]

In October 2010, Soubry wrote in her monthly column in the Beeston Express that on returning to Parliament she met a "somewhat shell-shocked Parliamentary Assistant bearing a pile of some 300 cards from constituents urging me to oppose the proposed sell-off of the Royal Mail."[24]

She expressed dismay at the time and cost of replying to each constituent when she had already discussed the issue with the Communication Workers' Union.[24] Twelve days later she announced in Parliament that of the 700 postal workers in her constituency, to her knowledge, none had written to her opposing privatisation of Royal Mail and only two had come down to London.[25]

In November 2010, the Communication Workers' Union wrote to Parliament alleging her statement was both untrue and wrongly implied there was little support for its "Keep the Post Public" campaign.[26] It wanted to get the statement formally withdrawn.[26]

Soubry agreed she was wrong, but said that some of the letters had been misfiled and others had arrived late or were sent to the wrong MP and that the Communication Workers' Union had been inefficient. She claimed she genuinely believed she was telling the truth.[26] The bill protected Royal Mail, its workers and the universal postal service and that was the only reason she supported it.[26]

The union collected around 10,000 signatures for its campaign in Nottingham.[26]

Support for Citizens' Advice Bureaux[edit]

On 28 November 2010, Soubry appeared on the East Midlands version of The Politics Show to discuss her efforts to help the Citizens' Advice Bureaux.

The programme reviewed the current state of Nottinghamshire's CAB which is facing a 30% increase in enquiries plus cuts in its budget from local councils and the Ministry of Justice.[27] It also briefly covered Chris Leslie's oral question to Ken Clarke earlier that month on the same topic.[28] In the overview, Simon Hartley Jones of Mansfield CAB said the cuts to the CAB beggared belief, threatened it with closure and contradicted the Big Society.[29] Soubry was shown speaking to local CAB workers and it was stated that her Broxtowe CAB handled 33,000 enquiries last year.[29]

In the studio interview, Soubry said she had asked the leader of Nottingham County Council and Clarke who she described as a "long standing supporter of the CAB" to reconsider. She also said the Government had made a £100m contingency fund available for charities facing problems in the immediate aftermath of the cuts. A reduction in the CAB's capability would add pressure to the MPs workload. She believed it was imperative to continue to fund the CAB from the public purse but also believed the banks and credit card companies who bear some responsibility for debts could help. An additional serious concern she would take up was that even at this late stage, the CAB did not know what its budget would be for the next financial year.

According to her website, Soubry later organised a meeting between the CAB, Midlands Women's Aid and Nick Hurd, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Charities, Social Enterprise and Volunteering. The meeting aimed to make him aware of the effects of the proposed cuts in funding to these organisations.[30]

HS2 (High Speed Rail)[edit]

In January 2013, Soubry welcomed the announcement of the proposed High Speed 2 East Midlands Hub station at Toton Sidings in the constituency stating that it was "a very good news day for Broxtowe". She has held a number of public meetings on the issue.[31]

In May 2013 she took Transport Minister, Simon Burns around the constituency to see the potential impact that the East Midlands hub and the railway line will have on the area.[32]

In August 2013, Soubry voiced criticism over plans to not hold a public consultation meeting in the constituency calling on HS2 Ltd to hold an event in Toton where the proposed East Midlands Hub is to be built .[33]

Email expressing concern about the running of Kimberley Town Council[edit]

In November 2014 the chair of Kimberley Town Council demanded an apology after criticism in Soubry’s August email to constituents. This warned of a meeting "amidst growing concerns about the running" of Kimberley Town Council and concern that "the council's reserves have all but been spent and councillors are consistently denied financial details." The council showed reserves of over £250k. Soubry claimed she was representing views from a meeting and not suggesting corruption.[34]

Anonymity (Arrested Persons) Private Member's Bill[edit]

In June 2010, Soubry sponsored a private member's bill to provide anonymity to a person who has been arrested but not charged. A clause allowed any party to ask for anonymity to be removed if it was in the interests of justice.[35] The press coverage of the arrest of the landlord of Joanna Yeates in December 2010 was criticised by both police and the Attorney General and seemed a good example of the mischief which the bill could remedy. The second reading took place in February 2011.[35] MPs of all parties alluded to the Yeates murder.

Mike Freer referring to "the landlord in Bristol" said "it was the castigation, the crawling over of that gentleman's background, the questioning of his looks, his eccentricity and his sexuality that were abhorrent and that will follow him around for ever."[36] Soubry replied, "What we saw in Bristol was, in effect, a feeding frenzy and vilification. Much of the coverage was not only completely irrelevant, but there was a homophobic tone to it which I found deeply offensive. The slurs on the man were out of order."[36] She also said that the Contempt of Court Act 1981 which the Attorney-General hadn't been able to use to "stop the salacious and vilifying nature of the coverage of the man arrested in Bristol" could be amended.[37]

Robert Flello said that many members had alluded to "the media's dreadful treatment of her landlord". The shameful way in which that man was portrayed in the press-from "weird-looking" to "strange", and with questions raised about his sexuality, his teaching practices and even his hairstyle-should embarrass and shame our media.[38]

Philip Davies was one of a number of MPs to raise the problems with websites. He pointed out that even if the bill applied to the UK, there would be no way of effectively controlling what was put out by websites based abroad.[39]

Soubry withdrew the bill after its second reading, when Justice Minister Crispin Blunt promised the Attorney General would examine the area of concern.[35][40]

Support for NHS Reforms[edit]

As PPS to Health Minister Simon Burns, Soubry was invited to appear on the Daily Politics show to discuss the controversial NHS reforms with the chair of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Clare Gerada.[41]

Burns had previously claimed that Gerada's opposition to the reforms did not represent the views of GPs.[41] Gerada rejected this saying that despite 18 months of "endless consultations" in a recent survey 90% of the 44,000 GPs had asked for the Bill to be withdrawn. Parts of it were good, putting GPs in charge of finance, putting patients first, addressing health inequality but in its totality the Bill was a mess and would not achieve its objectives.[41]

Soubry said Gerada was wrong.[41] She had talked to GP constituents who had formed a consortium before the election and they were already putting into operation what the Bill was trying to achieve (one local GP is a Conservative Councillor).[41] Another GP constituent had "actually begged her" to get the bill through so he could deliver the treatment that he wanted to give his patients.[41] However she agreed with the presenter Andrew Neil that this was anecdotal evidence whilst Gerada's evidence came from surveys and conferences.[41]
Gerada said the experience of Soubry's local GPs wasn't reflected in what she was hearing through the Royal College.

Neil then questioned Gerada saying her opposition to competition and further choice appeared to be based on ideological grounds and she appeared to be suggesting the Bill was an attempt to privatise the NHS along American lines.[41] Gerada agreed the bill did seem to be an attempt to privatise the NHS, turning it into a mixed funding system.[41] GPs were not against competition where it added value to patients, but they were against full fettered competition where any qualified provider could compete to treat the same hip.[41]

In March 2012, a group of 240 doctors, including 30 professors wrote to The Independent describing the Bill as an "embarrassment to democracy" which had no support from professional healthcare organisations.[42] They blamed the Bill's supporters for putting the Coalition survival "above professional opinion, patient safety and the will of the citizens of this country". They pledged to stand as candidates against MPs who backed it and Soubry was mentioned as a likely target both because of her tiny majority and because she told her constituents the bill's opponents were exploiting people's heartfelt support for the NHS.[42]

In response to a local newspaper article which referenced the Independent article, Soubry reiterated that there had been no complaints from her local GP consortium and claimed that many local GPs couldn't wait for the Bill to be passed.[43] The Bill received Royal Assent on 27 March 2012.

In April 2012, an independent poll carried out on behalf of the BBC by ComRes showed that the number of GPs believing the NHS reforms would noticeably improve patient had fallen from 23% in September 2010 to 12% in March 2012 though there were still around 33% "Don't knows." The chairman of British Medical Association's GPs' committee said GPs were unconvinced by the changes and were worried about being blamed for the consequences of meeting the £20 billion Government savings target.[44]

Admonishment by the Speaker[edit]

In early 2013, after Soubry loudly heckled the opposition, the speaker reminded her that she was not the Government spokesman: he advised her "in all courtesy" to sit there and be quiet or to leave the chamber if she couldn't do so.[45][46]

2015 general election[edit]

In June 2013, Soubry was re-selected by Broxtowe Conservatives to stand as their candidate at the 2015 general election.[47]


In a Westminster Hall debate, Soubry emphasised the role advertising plays in encouraging young people to smoke.[48] She herself took up smoking as a teenager because of the attractive packaging and she compared addiction to nicotine to heroin dependence though she had no direct experience of that.[48] According to the Telegraph, her comments raised questions about why the Coalition dropped plans for plain packaging shortly after David Cameron employed Lynton Crosby who has worked for tobacco companies as an election strategist.[48]

Antipathy to Nigel Farage[edit]

In December 2013 Soubry remarked on The Andrew Marr Show that UKIP leader Nigel Farage looked "like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it"; words described by Farage as a "foul-mouthed attack". Soubry later gave a two sentence apology, claiming that the comment was "light-hearted".[49] The apology followed a November debate on the BBC's Question Time when Soubry complained that UKIP was distributing leaflets suggesting that up to 29 million people could arrive in the UK from Romania and Bulgaria.[50] Pointing out that this was more than the combined population, Soubry told Farage he didn't talk facts, he talked prejudice and that the 1930s had taught Britain the dangers of xenophobia.[50] The New Statesman credited Soubry's "inspiring words" with reminding people that there are still Conservatives "who trade in facts not prejudices."[51]


She has spoken in favour of fracking.[52] Her views were criticised by green campaigners. Her constituency is part of the 'Widmerpool Gap', an area that could be explored for shale gas.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health[edit]

Following her appointment in September 2012, Soubry gave an interview with The Times in which she stated her support for assisted suicide for terminally ill people.[53] Both the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice denied there were plans for reform though her Lib Dem colleague Norman Lamb welcomed discussion and said he expected a private members' bill to be introduced by Lord Falconer in 2013.[53] Assisted suicide currently carries a maximum 14-year prison sentence.[53]

On 14 September 2012, speaking at an NHS Leadership Academy conference, Soubry stated that the Coalition had "screwed up" in the way it dealt with the medical profession over the NHS reforms.[54] Soubry later said that she fully supported the reforms but believed the benefits to patients could have been better explained and this would have won more support from health professionals.[54]

As Public Health Minister, Soubry criticised retailers who forced customers to pass "rows of unhealthy foods" on their way to the checkout and said that a new code of practice would urge retailers to stop this and also reduce deals on unhealthy food.[55]

In August 2013, Soubry as Public Health Minister, supported plans for a change in the law to allow HIV home-testing kits.[56]

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence[edit]

In David Cameron's October 2013 reshuffle, Soubry was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, becoming the first elected woman politician to be a Minister in the MoD. Her responsibilities included Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.[57]

Minister of State for Defence[edit]

In David Cameron's July 2014 reshuffle, Soubry was appointed Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.[57]

European Union referendum[edit]

Soubry is a strong supporter of Britain remaining in the European Union, and backed the remain campaign during the 2016 EU membership referendum. Following the referendum's outcome, which saw a 3% majority in favour of leaving the EU, she criticised former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who led the leave campaign, accusing him of backing Britain's exit from the EU because he wanted to be prime minister: "My anger with Boris is that I don't honestly believe that he believed what he was saying to people".[58] She was a guest on a special edition of BBC One's Question Time that aired on 27 June, warning that some people who voted to leave the EU had disregarded tolerance, and describing it as "[not] our country's finest hour". She urged the UK to put "hope over hatred" following the result.[59]

Addressing a Brexit protest outside Parliament on 28 June she described how her 84-year-old mother, and her daughters, had "wept" on the morning that the result was announced. In an emotional and impromptu speech she told the gathering "We made a terrible, terrible mistake on Friday" and urged those wanting to stay in the European Union to continue fighting for that cause. Fellow Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who voted to leave, caused controversy by posting a message on her Twitter account accusing Soubry of being "inebriated", but quickly deleted the comment after Soubry warned her it was "defamatory".[60]

On BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme on Wednesday 31 August 2016, Soubry stated categorically that she was in favour of immigration and the free movement of peoples, not just from the EU but from across the world.

Post Referendum[edit]

In September 2016, Soubry criticised the former Leave supporters when it became clear that the pledge "at the heart … of their message" of £350m a week promise of extra funding for the NHS was being dropped from post Brexit plans.[61]


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External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Nick Palmer
Member of Parliament
for Broxtowe

Political offices
Preceded by
Matt Hancock
as Minister of State for Business and Enterprise
Minister of State for Small Business
Succeeded by