Free Enterprise Group

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The Free Enterprise Group is a group of Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) who, in their own words:

“Encourage a competitive and free economic environment;

Raise the global economic standing of the United Kingdom;

Challenge monopolies and oligopolies;

Free individuals to create, innovate and take risks.”1

Links to the Tobacco Industry

The Group’s website states that “Administrative support for the group is supplied by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).” The webpage was registered in September 2011 by a Ruth Porter.2 In 2011, Ruth Porter was the Communications Director at the IEA. The IEA has received financial support from the tobacco industry.34


The Group was founded by Elizabeth Truss, MP. As of October 2020 its members were made up of 40 Conservative MPs, including:5

  • Harriet Baldwin;
  • Karen Bradley;
  • Robert Buckland;
  • Alun Cairns;
  • Jo Churchill;
  • James Cleverly;
  • Therese Coffey;
  • Michelle Donelan;
  • Charlie Elphicke;
  • Suella Fernandes;
  • George Freeman;
  • Marcus Fysh;
  • Mark Garnier;
  • John Glen;
  • Richard Harrington;
  • Chris Heaton-Harris;
  • Margot James;
  • Ranil Jayawardena;
  • Kwasi Kwarteng;
  • Andrea Leadsom;
  • Phillip Lee;
  • Brandon Lewis;
  • Craig Mackinlay;
  • Alan Mak;
  • Kit Malthouse;
  • Scott Mann;
  • Priti Patel;
  • Chris Philp;
  • Christopher Pincher;
  • Mark Pritchard;
  • Dominic Raab;
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg;
  • David Rutley;
  • Chris Skidmore;
  • Julian Smith;
  • Royston Smith;
  • Rory Stewart;
  • Michael Tomlinson;
  • Tom Tugendhat;
  • Nadhim Zahawi

“Drop Proposals for Plain Packaging”

On 3rd December 2013, a week after the UK Government announced that a rapid review of the Australian evidence for the plain packaging of tobacco products was to be undertaken and that plain packaging could be implemented before the close of the current Parliament in 2015, a report titled “The Business of Small Enterprise” was published by the Free Enterprise Group.6

The report included a recommendation for the Government to “drop proposals for plain packaging tobacco products.”7

The aforementioned quote is the only mention of plain packaging in the 28 page report. No evidence is presented to support the Group’s recommendation. This report was publicised in the press but its connection to the IEA was not reported. Given that the IEA receives tobacco industry money, this connection is noteworthy.

TobaccoTactics Resources


  1. Free Enterprise Group, FEG Homepage, accessed December 2013
  2. Who Is, Lookup of domain name, performed 4 December 2013
  3. J. Doward, Health groups dismayed by news ‘big tobacco’ funded rightwing thinktanks, The Observer, 1 June 2013, accessed June 2013
  4. Simon Millson, Group Head of Corporate Affairs for BAT, Letter to Deborah Arnott, ASH, 20 May 2013
  5. Free Enterprise Group, Home Page, Free Enterprise Group website, undated, accessed October 2020
  6. T. Shipman, Drop cigarette pack ban, Tory MPs demand: Influential group say removing branding will hit small shops by causing sales to fall, Mail Online, 3 December 2013, accessed December 2013
  7. Free Enterprise Group, The Business of Small Enterprise, November 2013, accessed December 2013
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