Two MPs from Cornwall have been appointed as ministers in the Government department in charge of the countryside – with one likely to oversee the controversial badger cull.
George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, and Dan Rogerson, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, were yesterday named as junior ministers at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the reshuffle.
They come in to replace Farming Minister David Heath, Lib Dem MP for Somerton and Frome, who has been sacked after a year despite the ongoing badger shoot – one of the most controversial Government policies. Richard Benyon is the other Defra minister to make way.
It remains unclear whether Mr Eustice or Mr Rogerson will be charged with the badger cull, part of plans to halt the spread of bovine TB spreading in the South West. But both have pledged support for the plan.
The pair have been named parliamentary under secretaries of state – a more junior position than that held by Mr Heath, who was a minister of state.
Downing Street said last night roles and responsibilities will be finalised by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson in the coming days.
While two "pilot" badger culls have been taking place in Somerset and Gloucestershire, Mr Paterson has indicated Cornwall could be next if the policy is expanded next year.
Former Truro School pupil Mr Eustice, 42, a former Press secretary to David Cameron who worked on his family's farm near Hayle, West Cornwall for ten years, said: "I am really looking forward to working with colleagues within Defra to champion the interests of rural communities."
St Austell-born Mr Rogerson, 38, served on the rural affairs select committee with Mr Eustice before yesterday's announcement.
Meanwhile, Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne has been sacked from his job as a Home Office minister – making him among the most high-profile casualties as David Cameron and Nick Clegg wielded the knife.
In a letter explaining why he had removed the MP from his job as Home Office minister, the Deputy Prime Minister said he was keen to "provide the opportunity for as many in our ranks as possible to contribute their skills to Ministerial office".
Mr Browne, who supported Mr Clegg in his Lib Dem leadership bid, appeared to take easily to coalition Government and regularly toured the television studios to sell the Government's message.
However, a Lib Dem source indicated to the WMN Mr Browne had been "ineffectual", and pointed to the Conservatives launching their "Go home" van campaign to crackdown on immigration while he was Home Office minister.