Tory MPs have welcomed the appointment of Owen Paterson to replace Caroline Spelman as Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary.
She lost her job after a difficult time, especially over the failed attempt to sell off England’s forests, which led to one of the coalition’s first major U-turns.
Mr Paterson, who switches from Northern Ireland Secretary, is seen as being on the right of the party, and Tory MPs will be looking to him to get Defra back on track.
He is known to be pro-hunting, and said when it was banned it was a “sad day for the House of Commons” – blaming “the politically correct lobby brimming with self-righteous bile”.
Mr Paterson, aged 56, is MP for the rural North Shropshire seat, and was born in the county, and entered the leather industry after university.
He entered the Commons in 1997, and was shadow agriculture, fisheries and food minister from 2003 to 2005, campaigning for the dairy industry. And he also worked on the bovine TB crisis – there are major pilots of badger culling due to take place in Somerset and Gloucestershire this autumn, and there are not expected to be major policy changes. Mr Paterson, who is married with three children, is a keen horse rider, and has ridden across Turkmenistan and Mongolia.
Bridgwater & West Somerset Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who takes a close interest in rural issues, welcomed the appointment. He told the Daily Press: “He is a great family man, very bright, with a very nice rural seat in Shropshire, and he is a hunting, shooting and fishing man.”