Norwich North MP Chloe Smith on why she has stepped down, the lobbying bill and that Paxman interview
PUBLISHED: 11:19 07 October 2013 | UPDATED: 16:29 07 October 2013
Norfolk MP Chloe Smith will return to the backbenches after three years as a minister having stepped down from her cabinet office post.
The Norwich North MP, who wrote to the prime minister to tender her resignation last month, will give up her role as part of a ministerial reshuffle expected today.
Ms Smith, who won the marginal seat in a by-election at the age of 27 in 2009, subsequently held the seat in the 2010 election.
She said she had made the decision, which will surprise many in Westminster, as she wanted to concentrate on her work in the constituency, her Norwich for Jobs campaign and encourage younger people to get involved in politics.
She said: I am proud to have served my country in this way, but my constituents have always come first for me. They know the high standards and the hard work that I ask of myself as their MP.
Ms Smith has most recently been leading the controversial lobbying bill, which has drawn criticism from a number of charities which warn the proposals could hamper their work.
But Ms Smith denies her decision had been related to the bill, pointing out she has been part of the government for three out of the four years she has been in parliament.
She said: If you look in context at all of the work I have been doing in that role, you will see quite a wide range. The lobbying bill is one of them. I think that bill is the right thing to do. My party is full of very talented people and there will be no shortage of people to take up this role.
In her cabinet office role she was also responsible for a change in the law to allow an eldest female to succeed the throne.
She joined the cabinet office from a high-profile role as economic secretary to the Treasury after she was promoted from the whips office in 2011.
She hit the headlines in 2012 after a tough interview with notoriously difficult interviewer Jeremy Paxman following the chancellors budget U-turn where she was sent in to defend the decision to scrap the 3p rise in fuel duty. Ms Smith dismissed the publicity around the interview, saying: I am really not very bothered about some of the chatter that goes on about certain interviews. Most people have very much better things to do with their time.
She said that during her time at the important Whitehall department she had done some detailed work on decommissioning costs in the oil and gas industry which had helped companies in the region.
She added: I think I can be proud of the work I have done and the service I have given to my country. I think it is right for my constituents to want to spend more time serving Norwich.
She said she wanted to use her experience of being elected to the House of Commons while still in her 20s to communicate with a new generation of younger voters.
She also threw her weight behind her government saying: As an elected Conservative MP the prime minister and my party have my full support as we continue to fix the economy, reward hard work and do the right thing for Britain.
Ms Smith said her proudest achievement had been helping to make 10bn of savings last year, while in the cabinet office.
The MP, who is getting married next month, said the decision had been about her priorities within her work life, which she had set out in her letter to the prime minister.
But she added: That said, everybody knows family is incredibly important and I am deeply grateful to my fianc Sandy for his unwavering support and he obviously fully supports me in that decision. And I am really looking forward to our wedding.
She added: Im not afraid of hard work. I now want to be able to ensure that I concentrate on the most important part of my job which is being the MP for Norwich North.
Paul Wells, chairman of the Norwich Federation said Ms Smith was a tireless advocate for her constituency, and her decision to concentrate even more on this important work was the right one.