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Sunak Humiliated as Tories Vote Against His Smoking Ban


Rebellion is the Language of the Tories

Chaos and rebellion rocked the House of Commons on Tuesday night as Rishi Sunak and his weak leadership was put to the ultimate test.

The Prime Minister desperately tried to rally support for his flagship Tobacco and Vapes Bill to ban smoking for young people. But in astonishing scenes, Sunak’s own Conservative Party erupted into open mutiny against him.

Tory MPs defied their leader in huge numbers and inflicted a massive rebellion on his key legislation. The Commons chamber became a bear pit as shouts of “no!” rained down on Sunak when the result was read out.

In an alarming indication of how far Sunak’s authority has collapsed, he was forced to rely on Labour votes to scrape his bill through. But make no mistake – the damage was already done. This was an unprecedented revolt against a sitting Prime Minister by his own backbenchers. And leading the insurgency were some familiar rebels with their eyes on Sunak’s job.

Does this spell the end for Sunak?

Sunak Faces Tory Adversity

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill, Rishi Sunak’s flagship piece of legislation to ban the sale of tobacco to those born in after the year of 2009, in hopes of creating a “smoke-free generation”, has passed its second reading in the House of Commons.

However, and as shocking as it may seem, the Prime Minister was able to get his plans through only with the support of Labour MPs, as a massive rebellion among his own Conservative ranks laid bare the deep divisions within the party.

It is quite shocking to see such drastic actions taken against the slimy Sunak from his own Troy party. But the telltale signs were glowing all around us with every failed policy, embarrassing incident, and abysmal polling data giving us but a brief glimpse into the sad and dire state of the once great Tory party.

In total, more than a hundred Tory MPs either abstained or voted against the bill, with 59 actively voting against it.

Sunak is at Risk of Getting Booted

This included several MPs who – ironically enough – are seen as potential future leaders of the party and likely candidates to succeed or perhaps overthrow the failing Sunak. MPs and officials like Kemi Badenoch, the former home secretary Suella Braverman, and Robert Jenrick.

Their open defiance of the Prime Minister’s key policy indicates they are actively positioning themselves as anti-Sunak voices within the Tory party.

Other prominent Conservative figures like Liz Truss, Steve Baker and Sir Graham Brady also rebelled, suggesting widespread discontent with Sunak’s direction among both the libertarian right-wing and leadership contenders.

Truss, in what seems like a fever dream of a speech criticising Sunak, slammed the plans as “emblematic of a technocratic establishment in this country that wants to limit people’s freedom”, warning against “health police” and “nannying control freaks”. Appropriate descriptors for Sunak and anyone that vehemently supports his idiotic and backwards policies.

Truss’ speech rallied many of the rebels and indicates that she might still be an influential voice even on the often forgotten backbenches.

Embarrassment should be the only thing Sunak feels with the sheer scale of the Conservative rebellion against a flagship government bill.

It suggests what every British citizen has already figured out, and that is Sunak is unable to command any form of loyalty or unity among his own MPs.

The rebels openly flouted the Prime Minister’s authority, with many voting against the bill for ideological reasons or to boost their own leadership ambitions.

This rebellion comes at a time when Sunak’s leadership is already under pressure. His poll ratings have plummeted amid a lagging economy and eroding public trust. Lets not forget that he only entered Number 10 without an election after Liz Truss’s rapid downfall, he lacks a real mandate. Now it seems he is unable to unify his party behind him or deliver on his own policy agenda.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill rebellion indicates growing disillusionment with Sunak among Tory MPs and signals he could face a leadership challenge in the coming months.

MPs like Badenoch, Braverman and Truss have strong support from the Conservative backbenchers and from the party membership. They are staking out their territory as viable anti-Sunak candidates.

More broadly, the rebellion shows deep fissures within the Conservative Party about its future direction. Sunak wants to craft a more centrist image, with bans like this to appeal to moderate swing voters. But much of the Tory right-wing favours a small-state, libertarian, free-market approach. This divide was laid bare a long time ago and now with this blatant rebellion, it will probably never be easily bridged once again.

Unless of course the stars align and Sunak is booted while a strong and true conservative party like Reform UK takes charge of the government while the Tories scramble to find their bearings once again.

But it will be a long time before the Tories gain some self awareness. Right now, the Conservatives are slowly but surely morphing into the party of anti-government intervention and personal freedom under potential new leaders like Badenoch and Braverman.

Unpopularity of the Prime Minister

Sunak’s statist, nannying approach is deeply unpopular with much of the party. This may raise the hopes of many as it suggests he could face a leadership challenge before the next election.

Even if he survives as Prime Minister, Sunak will struggle to unify his fractious party behind any coherent policy programme.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 15: Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reacts during a visit with Microsoft founder Bill Gates at Imperial College University on February 15, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Tallis – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

He is already facing a series of blows in the House of Lords due to his disastrous Rwanda bill.

Despite supposedly having an 80-seat majority, Sunak has repeatedly struggled to get his flagship immigration legislation passed in the face of opposition from peers.

This is yet another sign of Sunak’s weak leadership and inability to control parliament. He rammed the bill through the Commons using the Tories’ sizeable majority, but in the Lords he faces a more independent-minded chamber.

Time and again, peers have dismantled key parts of the legislation and forced amendments on the government.

It sums up his floundering premiership – big on rhetoric but completely lacking control over events. He has completely failed to get to grips with the asylum issue and his Rwanda plan now lies in tatters.
Failure on his key immigration pledge will only embolden those plotting to remove him.

The corrupt and disorganised Tory party will oppose and obstruct his agenda at every turn, seeing him as an obstacle to their libertarian vision. He has already had to rely on opposition votes to pass his flagship bill. What more humiliation can he possibly take?

Rishi Sunak’s authority and control over his party is rapidly slipping away. The stunning scale of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill rebellion indicates Conservative MPs have no fear of defying him. They are jostling for position as potential replacements. It suggests Sunak is living on borrowed time as Prime Minister.

He may limp on in Number 10 for a while yet, but it seems increasingly inevitable that assertive, rebellious voices like Badenoch, Braverman or even Truss will eventually topple him.

The Tobacco vote was a warning shot across Sunak’s bows. The implications are clear – much of his own party has already moved on from his faltering leadership. A more libertarian, anti-statist Tory Party is emerging, and it has little time for Rishi Sunak.

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