Heath sacked as two Cornish MPs appointed as Defra Ministers
7 October 2013 | By Alistair Driver
DAVID Heath has been sacked as Farming Minister as two MPs from Cornwall, George Eustice, a Conservative,
and Liberal Democrat Dan Rogerson have been appointed as Ministers at Defra.
Mr Heath has been sacked after just over one year in the post, while Richard Benyon, who has served as
Environment and Fisheries Minister since 2010, returned to the backbenches, as Prime Minister David Cameron
As of Monday evening, the changes leave Defra without a Minister of State, the rank below Secretary of State.
Both Mr Eustice and Mr Rogerson have been appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretaries, the lowest ranking
Ministerial position. The new Ministers’ portfolios are expected to be finalised on Tuesday.
Mr Cameron’s reshuffle featured Ministers below Cabinet level. His Labour counterpart, Ed Miliband, has
simultaneously undertaken a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, which has resulted in Mary Creagh, a strong opponent
of the badger cull, being replaced by Merseyside MP Maria Eagle. Mrs Creagh has been handed the Shadow
NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said he was surprised at Mr Heath’s sacking and paid tribute to the
Somerset MP, who he described as a ‘friend of the industry’. Mr Raymond said Mr Heath had been ‘very
supportive’ on the badger cull and had been particularly influential in helping to secure £250,000 for farmers hit
by the extreme snow earlier this year, following a trip with Mr Raymond to meet farmers in Cumbria. “That was
his major legacy. He connected very well with farmers when we visited Cumbria,” said Mr Raymond.
Mr Heath, who dealt with some big issues, including the horsemeat scandal, ash dieback, CAP, the badger cull
and the fallout from the SOS Dairy campaign, sometimes did not appear comfortable when debating policy in
public. There is no obvious reason for his departure, the most likely reason being a desire by Deputy Prime
Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to spice up his Ministerial team.
Mr Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, was a member of the Commons Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs Committee until Monday’s appointment as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Defra. A
eurosceptic and likely supporter of Defra Secretary Owen Paterson in his drive for radical reform of the CAP, Mr
Eustice is a firm supporter of the Government’s badger cull policy.
Mr Eustice, 42, grew up on his family fruit farm, at Gwinear, and worked there for a number of years before
entering the world of politics. He was David Cameron’s press secretary from June 2005 until the end of 2007 and
was part of his campaign team during the leadership contest.
Prior to that, he was campaign director for the anti-euro ‘No Campaign’ between 1999 and 2003 before becoming
the Conservative Party’s head of press under Michael Howard between 2003 and the 2005 General Election.
He stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the UK Independence Party in the South West of England during the
1999 European Elections.
Mr Rogerson, Lib Dem MP for North Cornwall, is a veteran of the EFRA Committee, still sitting on it until his
appointment, having joined it back in 2005, soon after he was elected to Parliament. He has served as Lib Dem
Shadow Minister for the Environment, Housing, Arts and Heritage and, most recently, Local Government. He has
also chaired the Parliamentary Cheese Industry Group.
Mr Benyon, whose remit included the environment and fisheries, revealed he had left his post on Monday
Commenting on his Twitter account morning, Mr Benyon wrote: “On back benches! 3 and half really fun years
with much achieved. Really appreciate time working with outstanding Ministers and Officials.”
The BBC is reporting that he is one of a number of Ministers to resign from the Government. Mr Benyon,
Conservative MP for Newbury, was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Defra, in May 2010,
as the coalition Government was formed.
His responsibilities have included the natural environment and biodiversity, fisheries, flooding and water,
national parks, access and rights of way and land management and soil.
He has largely been a step removed from core farming policies but hit the headlines when he branded the
RSPCA a ‘disgrace’ over an advert it ran suggesting the badger cull would lead to the ‘extermination’ of badgers.
@RichardBenyonMP leave Govt Defra team. Hope it’s not a move by Owen Paterson to water down
department’s environment enthusiasm.”
Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore, a familiar figure to Scottish farmers, has been removed as Secretary of
State for Scotland. He is replaced by Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael.
Similar Recent Posts by this Author:
- No Shit without a Smell – Tories Deny Cancelling Food & Farming Ministry Due to Annual £20bn Balance of Food Trade Deficit
- Vermin ! Some are more equal than others to Labour
- Farming- £4121 per Badger Culled v’s £662 per Badger Vaccinated
- FOOD AND FARMING -POST BREXIT- EXPECT HOME GROWN PRICES NOT TO ALTER, EXCEPT THE SUPPLY AND DEMAND FACTOR -BUT IMPORTED FOOD PRICES WILL RISE , EXCEPT COMMONWEALTH FOOD
- More Tory Sackings ? -Paterson -Defra Sec to go ? -Is Competence that Thin on their Ground ?
- Badger’s are to Blame