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Eustice, Prentis out, Jayawardena, Spencer in at Defra

7th Sep 2022 / By Alistair Driver

George Eustice has been sacked as Defra Secretary, with former Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena repacing him in new Prime Minister Liz Truss's first Cabinet.  

Ranil JayawardenaMr Jayawardena, who is just 36, takes on the Defra role, after serving as Minister for International Trade since May 2020. He was elected as the Conservative MP for North East Hampshire in 2015

In his previous role, he played a part in the new trade deals with Australia and New Zealand that have been criticised for granting significant market access to the UK for Australian and New Zealand farmers, while offering negligible for UK farmers.

Commenting on Twitter, he said it was ‘a privilege’ to be appointed as the Secretary of State for Defra. “From food security and backing British farmers, to water security and growing our rural economy, I know that there is much to do. It is so important to recognise where our food comes from,” he said.

Mr Eustice has been sacked after two years in the role, and prior to that, five years as a Minister at Defra. Before that, he held junior roles at the Department. He was leading voice in the farming Leave campaign. 

He was one of a number of Cabinet Ministers who have lost their roles after supporting Mrs Truss’s leadership rival, Rishi Sunak.

NPA reaction 

NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: "We welcome Ranil Jayawardena to the role and look forward to working with him and his Ministerial team in a number of key policy areas that will be critical to the short-and long-term survival of the British pig industry."

Ministerial change

On Wednesday, it was announced that former Chief Whip Mark Spencer had been appointed as the new Minister of State at the Department, taking over from Victoria Prentis, who is moving to the Department of Work & Pensions. 

Mrs Prentis has been a strong ally of the pig sector and the NPA's Lizzie Wilson and Charlie Dewhirst thanked her for her support on Twitter. 

Lizzie said: "So sorry to lose you minister, as you have been so understanding and supportive. Your attention and urgency throughout this very challenging period has really been appreciated by our pig producer members. Good luck with the new position!"

Charlie said: "Thank you for all the support you have given to the British pig industry during these last two years. It has been an enormously challenging period but we were always grateful for your determination to help us through the crisis. Very best of luck in the new role!"