The government has come in for a fair amount of stick in the past few weeks - mostly reserved for chancellor George Osborne following last month’s Budget, as he looked to close every small tax loophole known to man (including the now-infamous pasty and caravan taxes) and imposing the equally headline grabbing granny tax while missing the bigger picture completely.
But at the end of the day it is his job to address the massive deficit, and the poor lad needs every penny he can get. One can’t help wondering, therefore, if George might be looking for a quiet word in Andrew Lansley’s shell-like this week, after the health secretary declared his belief that the global tobacco giants shouldn’t have a presence in the UK.
Again, you can understand where Lansley is coming from. He sees smoking as something that causes 100,000 deaths in the UK every year and costs the NHS £2.7bn.
But with tobacco bringing in £12.1bn in tax and the industry employing 5,700 people, for the time being the Treasury might not be so keen to stub them out. Will Lansley blink?