As I write, the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is putting the finishing touches to his Government. He has already announced the appointment of Theresa Villiers as Defra Secretary to replace Michael Gove, with the reappointment of George Eustice (after a short break) and Therese Coffey to her ministerial team. We welcome Mrs Villiers to her new role and look forward to working with her, while we are pleased to be able to continue working with George Eustice and Therese Coffey.
In his response to our questions on rural issues during the leadership campaign, Boris Johnson pledged to make more funds available to address the “imbalances that affect rural communities” and he committed to supporting the “vital resource” of the rural post office network. He also said that he would ensure that laws on wildlife management and animal welfare were based on “facts rather than emotion”, and that changes to firearms legislation were “not a priority”.
The new Prime Minister has made a commitment to provide full fibre broadband by 2025 and told us that he would make sure that rural communities “are not left behind through lack of connectivity”.
When responding to a question about animal rights extremism he said: “While I am committed to protecting animal welfare, I will not tolerate extremism, intimidation and abuse irrespective of the motives that drive it.”
Of course the new Prime Minister has perhaps the most challenging inbox of any of his predecessors since his hero Winston Churchill. He must make Brexit work for the countryside and develop new policies on agriculture, fishing, and the environment outside the EU, and his Government must also deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitments to the rural community.