Richard Benyon has been replaced by George Eustice as Defra fisheries minister in David Cameron’s government reshuffle today.
The Cornwall-born Eustice entered parliament as MP for Camborne and Redruth in 2010, having previously worked as Cameron’s press secretary. In 1999, he stood as a candidate for Ukip in the European parliament elections.
Prior to his appointment today, he sat on the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee (Efra), which recently conducted an investigation into the government’s handling of the horsemeat scandal.
His new remit will stretch from access and rights of way to the marine environment and inland waterways as well as EU fisheries reform.
Benyon, who announced his removal to the back benches in a tweet earlier today, played a key role in negotiations with his EU counterparts to thrash out a new Common Fisheries Policy for Europe.
Following the news of his departure, Benyon has drawn praise from fellow politicians, including political opponents, for his achievements while in office.
Mary Creagh, at the time of writing still the Labour shadow environment secretary, said she was “sorry to see @RichardBenyonMP leave Govt Defra team.”
Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat MEP and secretary of the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group in the European Parliament, said: “Tory or not, he has helped secure huge improvements to the EU Common Fisheries Policy.”
Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall, who lobbied the EU and UK governments hard during the CFP negotiations, has also previously praised Benyon’s efforts on fish reform. “Richard Benyon and other forward-thinking ministers deserve credit for persuading the French and Spanish that exemptions to the discards ban should be tightened up, but these proposals will still see some fish thrown overboard,” he said in May.
Benyon was elected Conservative MP for Newbury in 2005 and became fisheries minister in May 2010.