Michael Gove’s appointment as DEFRA Secretary – what it means for food and drink

16th June 2017

UK Conservative politician Michael Gove has been appointed as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a post-election reshuffle by Teresa May.

The move has come as a surprise to many commentators as he was sacked last year in his position as Education Secretary.

The Surrey MP and former Chairman of the policy Exchange Think Tank has replaced Andrea Leadsom, who has now been moved to leader of the House of Commons.

Gove was a prominent campaigner for Brexit. His new position will see him head up one of the Government’s most important departments and be responsible for policy replacements, such as the current EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The CAP, introduced in 1962, has gone from 71% of EU budget in 1984 to 39% of EU budget in 2013, sparking criticism for the agricultural industry on the grounds of cost, environmental and humanitarian impact.

Post-Brexit, Gove will be responsible for replacing the current CAP with a UK system, with the industries leaders believing he is the man for the job. Ian Wright CBE Director General of FDF said,

“It is a big boost that the Prime Minister has appointed one of the Cabinet’s heaviest hitters to a ministry so significantly at the heart of Brexit. We very much look forward to working with Mr Gove and his new team.

“With them and with friends from NFU and across UK food and drink we will champion the growth of the industry in the exciting months to come.”

Gove adds, “As we leave the European Union, I am determined to protect our precious environment, support our thriving fishing industry and help our globally-renowned food and farming industries grow more, sell more and export more great British food and drink.”

However, his appointment is not welcomed by all. Gove is reported to be a denier of climate change issues, which heavily impacts agriculture.

When he was in charge of the Education Department, Gove rewrote the geography curriculum leaving out climate change, prompting a backlash of petitions and a lobby for its re-inclusion.

He is also believed to have barred Conservative Climate Secretary Amber Rudd from attending the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit in Peru so that she could take part in a Common’s vote on counter-terrorism, prompting the Lib Dems to question the motives behind it.

Speaking of Gove’s appointment, co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas says, “This is a man who tried to stop young people in our schools learning about climate change, who tried to take it out of the geography curriculum.”

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