Eustice replacement confirmed at Defra
Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill to the role of Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Defra.
Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove said: “Delighted to welcome Robert Goodwill to the Defra team. Robert’s hands on knowledge of farming at the sharp end, experience in European politics, great ministerial record and shrewd judgment are an asset to Government.”
Mr Goodwill was educated at the Quaker Bootham School in York and subsequently the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture in 1979. He then became a farmer of 250 acres near Malton in Yorkshire that same year. The farm has been in his family since 1850. He was elected Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby in 2005.
Goodwill was formerly Minister of State at the Department for Education from June 2017 to January 2018, but was sacked from the post on 9th January 2018. In addition, he has been the Managing Director of Mowthorpe Ltd., since 1995, a business which offers environmentally friendly burials in the North Yorkshire countryside.
The new Minister, who takes over from George Eustice following his resignation over his frustration with Brexit progress, was originally elected as a Member of the European Parliament in 1999, serving in Brussels and Strasbourg until the 2004 European election. He was Deputy Leader of the Conservative MEPs during his European term.
His political career at Westminster also covers 18 months as a member of the transport select committee, he was appointed as a government whip in 2006 and promoted to the post of Shadow Roads Minister in the transport team in 2007. He was re-elected at the 2010 general election and appointed to the government as a whip, with responsibility for HM Treasury and Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs business.
He served as Minister of State at the Department for Transport from December 2015 until July 2016, previously being Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the department. Theresa May moved Goodwill to the Home Office where he assumed the role of Minister of State for Immigration, but it was during the cabinet reshuffle following the 2017 general election that Goodwill was appointed Education Minister.
He has sat on the Environmental Audit Select Committee since 22nd January 2018, and the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee since 5th March 2018.
Commenting on the appointment, Head of Policy at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) Norman Bagley said: “I have met Robert Goodwill and found him genuine and engaging. He was criticised as an immigration minister for saying the argument about reliance on foreign labour had been over egged. So, it will be interesting to see how that pans out.
“He is from a strong farming background, which is a positive, but whether he can make any meaningful change to the culture in Defra, which subjects our industry to far greater costs than our competitors, remains to be seen. I wish him well with that one.”
The appointment was also welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), with President Tim Breitmeyer reported as saying that the new minister was “willing to listen and engage on the issues that matter.”
Goodwill is a member of the Cornerstone Group of Conservative MPs and has described himself as a staunch Eurosceptic, although he supported Remain in the EU referendum. He married his wife Maureen in 1987 and they have two sons and a daughter.