Elizabeth Truss joins the cabinet table in reshuffle

 
Elizabeth Truss MP Elizabeth Truss MP, answers her first set of questions in parliament as Environment Secretary

Imagine the scene. It's late at night at the Conservative Party Conference and the then transport secretary, Phillip Hammond, is just about to call it a night, when rounding the corner, he finds his path barred by Elizabeth Truss.

"Give me a break," he pleads: "I know you want the A11 dualled."

It was September 2010 and the new MP for South West Norfolk had made it her mission to lobby Mr Hammond at every available opportunity during the Birmingham conference.

A year later the prime minister was heard to complain that he dreaded running into Ms Truss at the moment because she kept asking him if he was going to keep RAF Marham open.

Over seven months Elizabeth Truss asked 13 questions in the Commons about RAF Marham, she secured a special debate on the subject, wrote dozens of letters to ministers and collected 36,000 signatures on a petition which was delivered to Downing Street.

With an eye on the Thetford Forest, in her constituency, she spoke out against the proposal to sell off forests and played a leading role in thwarting the Norfolk waste incinerator.

These are the kinds of things that show MPs in a positive light and it's probably why Ms Truss and several of the East's MPs have been promoted in the reshuffle.

Popular MPs

The public like it when their representative at Westminster doggedly fights their corner, even if it means annoying their colleagues in government.

The prime minister needs popular MPs with personality and a high public profile to make the Conservative case in the forthcoming election - he believes people like Elizabeth Truss, who is now environment secretary, are the kind of people who will give the Tory party a good name.

Her colleague and next door neighbour, Matthew Hancock, (West Suffolk) also fought for the A11 to be dualled.

He's campaigned strongly for the horse racing industry, which is based in Newmarket. His attempt to force offshore bookmakers to pay tax on their profits from British customers will not only bring in more money for the Treasury, but will also go a long way to creating a level playing field for the UK betting industry. He's now also in the cabinet with an enhanced role as a business minister.

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) has regularly banged the drum for the region's life sciences industry.

He's lobbied successfully for grants for the Norwich Research Park and institutions in Cambridge. He believes in the new world of agri-tech and that our region could lead the world in 21st Century technology. The prime minister has created a new post for him - Minister for Life Sciences.

Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) led the campaign against the planned toll road on the A14 in Cambridgeshire (it's worth noting that none of the Conservative MPs in Cambridgeshire did). She raised the issue so often in Parliament that Prime Minister said he was relieved when she decided to ask him about something else in Prime Minister's questions. She's been made a whip, responsible for party discipline.

Priti Patel has been a key player in the campaign to improve the Greater Anglia rail line. She's now a treasury minister. Brandon Lewis is fighting to dual the A47 - he's been promoted within the Department for Communities and Local Government.

These MPs had been tipped for the top and needless to say, have all been loyal back benchers - now they have their reward.

The hope is they've demonstrated that MPs can make a difference and that might just win the Conservatives a few more votes in next year's election.

 
Deborah McGurran Article written by Deborah McGurran Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

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