Farming, Fisheries and Food Minister wins promotion to top job at Defra where he will be responsible for delivering government's post-Brexit environmental and agriculture legislation
George Eustice has been named Environment Secretary, rising to the top job after spending the best part of seven years as a Defra minister, as Boris Johnson continued to carry out a major overhaul of the top green jobs in his cabinet today.
The Defra veteran was first appointed Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food in 2013 by then Prime Minister David Cameron, and has since served in the role under both Theresa May's and Johnson's premierships.
A prominent Brexiteer, Eustice made headlines last year when he resigned from the Department in protest at May's promise to allow Parliament a vote on delaying the UK's exit from the EU. It turned out to be only a brief stint on the backbenches, however, as Eustice was soon appointed back to the same role at Defra several months later when Johnson became PM.
As Environment Secretary, Eustice will now be tasked with delivering on the government's sweeping post-Brexit green governance, legislation and farming subsidy changes - efforts towards which he has already had a key hand in at Defra, where he has helped to draw up the flagship Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Bills.
All three Bills are currently making their way through Parliament, with further details still being awaited on the government's plans for establishing a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to oversee post-Brexit green regulations. Eustice is therefore set to face ongoing pressure from green groups to strengthen environmental governance and protections in the Bill, amid concerns over the government's failure to put in law any commitment to maintaining food and environmental standards after Brexit as it seeks to secure free trade deals both with and outside the EU. He will also face calls to continue to drive reforms to the UK's waste regime and plastics regulations.
Eustice is known to have been critical of some environmental regulations in the past and his appointment prompted fierce criticism from Green MP Caroline Lucas, who argued that "our environment is now being *safeguarded* by a minister who - Voted 14 times against measures to tackle climate change - Voted 3 times against support for local carbon electricity - Described environmental protection laws as 'spirit crushing'."
Eustice's promotion comes after Theresa Villiers was sacked as Environment Minister along with former Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom earlier in the day. After Sajid Javid's shock resignation, Rishi Sunak has also been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, while Amok Sharma has landed the role of COP26 President, as well as being announced as Leadsom's successor at BEIS.
Elsewhere Grant Shapps has kept his role as Transport Secretary, although two of his junior ministers at the Department for Transport have been sacked, leaving space for further appointments to help drive the government's planned Transport Decarbonisation Strategy.
And former Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay, who's job was effectively abolished when the UK officially exited the EU at the end of last month, has also made a quick return to the government, taking up the role of Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
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