Anna Soubry Appointed First Ever Female MP Defence Minister

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Broxtowe MP Anna Soubry has become the first female MP to be made a defence minister, after David Cameron reshuffled the junior ranks of government.

Soubry had been public health minister, a job she said she felt had been given to her because she was a woman. However on Monday the prime minister moved her to the Ministry of Defence. Two women have previously served as ministers in the department - but they were both members of the House of Lords.

Soubry revealed she chided Cameron when he appointed her to the Department of Health last year. She told Total Politics: "To be quite frank, when the PM said to me, 'I want you to do public health', I thought, 'Oh boss, I respect you so much, but I'm the only woman here and I get public health - I hope there's no connection there'.

"Maybe I can make people realise that this is not a soft bloody girly option, it is a big serious job. I want my successor to be a man. I'm a huge fan of our prime minister, but I did sit there in the Cabinet room and think, 'Boss, you do know what you've just done? You've given public health to the girl again, except I'm not a girl, I'm a tough old bird'."

The "tough old bird" is now a parliamentary Under Secretary at MoD. However her wish that her replacement at Health be a man has not been realised, the job has gone to Battersea MP Jane Ellison.

In 1999 Tony Blair made Baroness Symons the first ever female defence minister. And in 2007 Gordon Brown made Baroness Taylor a job in the MoD. But Soubry is the first elected politician to be given a job running the military.

Cameron is frequently criticised for not having enough women in his top team. And he moved to promote female MPs, including Claire Perry, Nicky Morgan and Jane Ellison - possibly with a view to increasing the number of women in the cabinet in time for the 2015 election.

Ed Miliband has also moved to balance out the gender representation, with Labour keen to point out that 44% of the shadow cabinet were now women.

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