Either Soubry is a member of the government and accepts the official line that government still has an "open mind" on plain packaging, or she steps down and supports the measure from the backbenches.
However, she is very much aware of what she can and can't say in her role of Under Secretary of State, as she revealed a few days earlier in the House of Commons (emphasis mine).
Anna Soubry: I find it most bizarre that the advice I am given by my officials—and I absolutely accept their advice—is that, as the hon. Gentleman will understand, because of judicial reviews of consultations, I am not allowed to have an opinion, so I do not give any opinion, notwithstanding the fact that many people would say that he advances a number of important arguments.
So, by her own admission she knows it is wrong to advance her personal support for any policy until it has passed through the fig leaf of a not-so-public consultation ... yet did exactly that on the Today programme. But then, she finds it "most bizarre" that she shouldn't be allowed to give her opinion until after the public have officially had their say.
She may as well be saying "I'm too good for parliamentary process, and screw what the public think!".
As if that isn't bad enough, she has a very loose understanding of the word 'evidence'. Replying to a question on how plain packs could make counterfeiting more simple, she came out with this nonsense.
Far from being a counterfeiter’s dream, the packets produced in Australia would clearly be a nightmare here. A variety of colours, watermarks and holograms, and all manner of other things, can be attached to them, which is why they are described as “standardised” rather than “plain”.
Oh really, dear? Because that's worlds away from what packaging experts say.
I have worked in the packaging industry for more than 40 years and can assure you that the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products would have unintended consequences.
The production of packaging is a complex process and involves not only the common 20s carton but a range of other products all produced to exacting standards. The printing techniques for the branding on the packs employ enhanced design features – such as embossing, debossing, hot-foil stamping and UV varnish, among others – and typically use between eight and 10 unique colours from state-of-the-art printing equipment. In contrast, pictorial health warnings which would feature on plain packaging can be produced and reproduced using low-cost printing techniques, from equipment readily available in the market, using just four basic print colours.
Any move to a plain packaging specification will benefit the counterfeiter and producer of fake products.It's also the polar opposite to what the police and HMRC have been trying to get through your thick skull.
You see, this is precisely why we have public consultations. It's so that government can be informed about stuff you simply don't get by presenting regional news programmes or, indeed, by solely accepting the word of state-paid single interest lobbyists.
How this contemptuous and woefully inept woman was given a position of any authority in government is anyone's guess. She is quite simply not fit to assist on a car boot sale stall, let alone a state department.