That question has been on many lips the last few weeks, as she seems to have slipped from all view. Empty chaired at hustings, it’s caused a fair amount of speculation. She’s even slipped out of her self-appointed role as Head of the Tory Remainers: having her cake and eating it by mouth-piecing for disaffected Europhiles, while happily voting along with the Brexiteers.
The election has caught her on the hop though. While her decision to tack left seemed good relatively early on in the parliament -it allows her time to be seen as a sage when Brexit goes tits-up – it’s an albatross during an election. The strategy of soaking up voters leaking heavily from a pointless Farage-free UKIP isn’t going to work when you’ve been pretty outspoken about them: accusations of working-class racism up in the more Europhobic Northern half of Broxtowe are still very fresh in the air.
So perhaps no wonder she has gone to ground. But a recent idle check on the Broxtowe Borough Council has probably given more insight into her low profile. For Anna Soubry, who promised during her 2010 campaign that an MP had a moral duty to live in her constituency actually lives in Charnwood.
Where’s Charnwood? I hear you cry, thumbs clicking onto Google Maps. Well, it’s not Broxtowe. It doesn’t even border Broxtowe. It’s not even in Nottinghamshire, but rural Leicestershire: the posh bit where fox-hunts are more common than Sunday League kick abouts.
I have long suspected as much. Her expenses show that returning from Parliament at the end of the week she travels to Leicester station. She’s been doing this for some time.
Charnwood is where her partner, former shonky-building firm director Neil Davi(D)son (sic) lives, in a large pile most likely not built by the awful firm of botch-job builders he worked for. Nowt wrong with that of course. Love needs closeness to flourish, even among awful people. But why has she moved there, rather than she move to the plush Bramcote apartment she claimed to live in?
You see, less than two years ago Anna Soubry claimed to be living the Bramcote life. Her cloying newsletters told of how she was DEFINITELY ONE OF YOU, taking the odd stroll on Bramcote Park, supping an ale in the Top House, getting their stamps from the shop that used to be Cloughies. Bramcotian through and through! Cut her, she bleeds NG9.
She lived in the Lawns, a lovely little development just off Town Street, tucked in near Bramcote Ridge.
When she stood for reelection in May 2015, she gave this address as her residence. However, checking the history of the property, it seems that it was only purchased on the 2nd December 2014, a few months before the election, handily. So Anna Soubry lived their for just a few months, to cash in on the ‘local aspect’ . Soon after that election was over, she hot-footed back to Charnwood away from us Nottinghamshire plebs and our utterly unreasonable desire to be represented in Parliament.
The 2017 snap election caught her off guard: now she has been cast out of the ministerial inner-circle, and the abandonment of fixed-term elections, she’s been wrong footed. No chance to move back to Broxtowe in late 2019 so she could play at being a local in the scheduled May 2020 election. So reluctantly, she entered her address as Charnwood. Ouch.
Before I’m accused of some League of Gentleman local-snobbery, some context. I have no issue with where a politician lives as long as they do a good job. Nice if they do live in it, or nearby, and have a good relationship with their constituency, and the way it works. Yet Anna has been claiming she would be ‘Broxtowe’s Voice in Westminster’, dismissing her then-opponent Dr Palmer as a man who could not deign to live in his own area. Promises were made to give up her lavish Mapperley Top home, and be part of our community. She sold herself as being ‘One of us’: a pretty condescending attitude only someone who can’t bear anyone outside her own clique would feel the need to repeat.
A couple of other questions remain. If she bought the house for purely campaigning reasons, how does she feel to adding to the borough’s housing crisis? Buying up property for purposes other than actually living in has led to a dysfunctional, hugely skewed property market, which creates massive inequality and the need to squeeze housing developments out of towns and over greenbelt.
And who has paid for this property? If someone fancies having a forensic look at her expenses in relation to claimed housing costs, be my guest. I’m sure everything is in order, but if we can’t trust her on this, what can we trust her on?