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David Cameron unveils new minister of state for small business – But who is Anna Soubry?

6 min read

12 May 2015

After being promoted to her new position, Real Business looks into who Anna Soubry is and just what her responsibilities will be.

Anna Soubry has been named minister for small business in the first all-Conservative cabinet for 18 years.

The MP for Broxtowe – where she was first elected in 2010 – had increased her majority from just under 400 to 4,287 in the 2015 election. The Conservatives won a 12-seat majority in the House of Commons in the May 7 election, with 331 of the 650 seats.

The FSB had previously called for a minister for small businesses to attend cabinet meetings in its own Business Manifesto, and Soubry is now set to do so.

Nick Ayton, managing director of GenLife, said this appointment was important, “given how reliant we will be on these organisations to deliver growth to the UK economy in the coming years”. Cameron has indicated he intends to move quickly with implementing the Conservatives’ manifesto – outlining a raft of legislation in the Queen’s speech on 27 May.

However, Ayton said: “[Soubry will] have her work cut out to deliver the pledges that David Cameron made in his election campaign to grow the number of small businesses by 2020

“I’m confident that with the right government support in place, Britain can be known as somewhere that entrepreneurs can innovate and thrive”.

So, what do we know so far about the MP taking on the role previously occupied by Matthew Hancock, Michael Fallon and Mark Prisk? Interestingly, Soubry’s new position has the specific title of small business minister, not minister for business and enterprise like Hancock, Fallon and Prisk.

  • Soubry has been the MP for Broxtowe since the 2010 election, and was previously parliamentary private secretary to Simon Burns, the health minister. She was then parliamentary under secretary of state and minister for defence – making her the first elected woman politician to be a minister in the MoD
  • She previously worked as a journalist, as well as presenting ‘This Morning’ in the late 1980s. She was called to the bar in 1995 and is a member of the Criminal Bar Association
  • Known as a formidable speaker, Soubry has voiced her opinion on a range of ongoing fierce debates. In fact, she’s so vocal that on one occasion, Soubry was admonished by the Speaker in 2013 for loudly heckling the opposition. She was advised “in all courtesy” to be quiet, or leave the chamber if she couldn’t do so
  • She has previously butted heads with UKIP leader Nigel Farage – Soubry told him on Question Time that UKIP’s leaflets warning that up to 29m people could arrive in the UK from Romania and Bulgaria, were factually incorrect and simply based on prejudice
  • Soubry has previously said an honest debate was needed concerning stopping people Class A drugs, and voiced support for the legalisation of cannabis. She was an avid supporter of the Equal Marriage Bill and agrees with assisted suicide for the terminally ill
  • She welcomed the proposal of HS2, but criticised the lack of plans to 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. 

Read more on the 2015 general election:

Soubry has also attracted the attention of a rather unusual fan – as the election results rolled in, none other than Katie Hopkins voiced her excitement at Soubry’s win in Broxtowe.

Soubry’s new responsibilities as small business minister will include business sectors and advanced manufacturing, competitiveness and economic growth, export licensing, the Royal Mail and the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill, among other duties. She will also be overseeing the proposed extension to the British Business Bank.

FSB’s policy director, Mike Cherry, said: “This is a big win for the FSB as we have long been pushing for a dedicated voice at the heart of government who could robustly advocate for the UK’s 5.2m smaller firms. Small business can now feel more confident that their concerns will be heard at the highest level.”

The Conservatives introduced a variety of new pledges regarding small businesses ahead of the 2015 election, including increased funds for the Start Up Loans scheme, and the Help to Grow scheme. A key task of Soubry’s will be maintaining the increased focus on improving access to capital and developing different ways to reach more entrepreneurs with more loans.