Over the past couple of weeks the Countryside Alliance’s political and policy team has held individual meetings with the Labour MPs responsible for holding Defra Ministers to account, and developing alternative policies for the environment, food and rural affairs.

On Thursday 2 November, Countryside Alliance Head of Policy, Sarah Lee, and Political Relations Manager, James Somerville-Meikle, met the Shadow Defra Secretary of State, Sue Hayman MP. The meeting was an opportunity to outline our policies on Brexit, particularly the requirements of rural businesses in our future trade and migration arrangements with the EU, and the opportunities for improving agricultural support and wildlife law outside of the EU.

On Tuesday 14 November, Countryside Alliance, Head of Shooting, Liam Stokes, and Political Relations Manager, James Somerville-Meikle, met the Shadow Farming Minister, David Drew MP. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss proposed changes to firearms law in a current Home Office consultation, and raise concerns about the role of GPs in providing background checks for shotgun and firearms licence certificate applications and renewals. The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss some of our policies on food and farming, including the need for a new seasonal workers scheme, and improved food labelling.

It was also great to meet Shadow Environment Minister, Holly Lynch MP, at our Fishing for Schools Reception in Parliament on Wednesday 15 November where we showcased the importance of learning outside the classroom, particularly the benefits of building self-confidence and new skills.

Political Relations Manager, James Somerville-Meikle, commented: “Our meetings with Labour’s frontbench team have been extremely useful. There are a number of areas where we have found common ground, particularly on the need to maintain tariff free trade with the EU for food and farming, and the need to ensure our future immigration policy recognises the needs of businesses across the rural supply chain to recruit workers from the EU. The Shadow Team has the vital task of scrutinising the Government during this important Parliament for the countryside, and we look forward to working with them to ensure the Government is held to account for its rural policies.”