Priti Patel MP: Who is the new Treasury minister who supports death penalty and rejects plain packaging for cigarettes?

MP for Witham in Essex has been promoted from an influential Downing St policy board to role of exchequer secretary - dealing with tax policy

In Priti Patel, the MP for Witham in Essex, David Cameron has promoted to the Treasury a woman with right-wing views who has said she supports the death penalty and has in the past been linked with big tobacco business.

The 42-year-old is one of the big winners in the Prime Minister’s reshuffle, moving up from a Downing Street policy board to the middle-ranking ministerial position of exchequer secretary dealing with tax policy.

Born in the London borough of Harrow, she became the Conservatives’ first female Asian MP when she won her Essex seat in 2010.

Ms Patel has a history of supporting campaigns for small businesses, transport infrastructure investment and affordable homes – but it is her views on the criminal justice system that make her promotion into the heart of George Osborne’s ministerial team controversial.

She famously clashed with Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye and team captain on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You, in a Question Time debate on the US's execution of Troy Davis.

She said at the time that she would “support the reintroduction of capital punishment” on the grounds that “murderers and rapists and people who have committed the most abhorrent crimes go into prison but then are released back into the community to do those crimes again and again”.

Disagreeing with other panel members including the Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable and Labour’s Harriet Harman, she said: “Capital punishment [could] serve as a deterrent. I do not think we have enough deterrents in this country for criminals – let’s not forget that murders, rapists and criminals of that nature choose to commit the crimes that they commit.”

Ms Patel is also against prisoners having the vote and favours a tough stance on immigration and asylum, while her own record on voting in Parliament has shown support for higher education tuition fees, greater defence spending and in favour of a reduction in spending on benefits.

Before moving into politics, Ms Patel worked in PR with the consultancy firm Weber Shandwick, where according to the Observer one of the clients at the time was British American Tobacco (BAT), a multinational tobacco firm based in London.

The newspaper said an internal memo explained that Patel would “provide strategic advice on the account, with a particular focus on the Conservative party”. She told her local paper, the Essex Chronicle: “I worked in consultancy for 10 years and worked with charities, car companies, not-for-profit organisations, I had hundreds of clients. Consultancy is exactly what it says on the tin, I provided advice, but to say I was a lobbyist is completely inaccurate.”

She has since rejected plans for plain packaging on cigarettes, and voted in favour of relaxing the smoking ban for pubs and private members’ clubs in the Commons.

Ms Patel, who is chair of the all-party parliamentary small shops group, has said standardised packaging for cigarettes would be “the final nail in the coffin” for hundreds of newsagents.

After entering Westminster in 2010 Ms Patel has sat on the Tory party’s 1922 committee of backbench MPs, and joined the Number 10 policy board last year.

She studied economics at Keele University, is married with a five-year-old son and describes her and her husband’s interests as “horse racing, cricket and travelling”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee