DEFRA minister Richard Benyon MP has been removed from the Cabinet in the recent reshuffle, while David Heath, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food at DEFRA, was sacked after just one year in the job.
George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall, has been appointed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs at DEFRA. Mr Eustice comes from a farming background, and his family still runs a fruit farm in Cornwall, where they also keep South Devon cattle and have the country’s oldest herd of British Lop, a rare breed of pigs.
Mr Eustice’s profile on the DEFRA website says that his
responsibilities and role titles are subject to review. Mr Benyon’s removal from the Cabinet was disappointing to many among the fieldsports and farming community.
On his blog, Mr Benyon wrote: “Actually it was more a case of political hara-kiri than the sack. In July I had a word with the Chief Whip… I told him that if I was asked to go on I would, but if the Prime Minister was looking for space I would ‘go quietly’!
“While I loved being in Government it is a relentless existence with the red boxes and work filling evenings and weekends… The Prime Minister was good enough to say that he hoped I could be tempted back in the future.
“I have been deluged with messages and tweets, most of them kind. One tweet said, ‘Fisheries Minister sacked. Word is he’s gutted’.”
Mr Benyon also published a letter from David Cameron, which commended him for his work on the Natural Environment White Paper and the England Biodiversity Strategy, as well as the negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy and putting an end to the practice of discards.