What a UK Negotiator Needs From a Minister

Back in 2011, ARC2020 carried a report from a CAP reform conference held in London. Among the speakers was DEFRA negotiator Martin Nesbit, who appears behind the lectern in this picture, taken at the time. He looks startled because he had just been asked what he needed most to be effective in European negotiations. His reply was an experienced and knowledgeable minister, with at least two years’ experience at the UK’s environment and agriculture ministry DEFRA.

Since that day, many ministers have come and gone, with none of them lasting two years. The UK is about to go into Brexit negotiations with a political maverick, Brexiteer Michael Gove, in charge of DEFRA. Here are are a few of his predecessors’ contributions to posterity.

(from the top right of the image above) Owen Paterson, September 4 2012 to July 14 2014.

When challenged over a failed badger cull, he accused the animals of  “…moving the goalposts.” As we reported at the time, it was one of a series of political own-goals Paterson scored during his political career.

Liz Truss, July 15 2014 to July 14 2016.

Her efforts to promote British food somehow failed to convince.

Andrea Leadsom, July 14 2016 to June 11 2017.

A controversial advocate of fracking and opponent of agricultural subsidies Leadsom was one of the least convincing environment ministers on recent years. Here Scottish farmers putting her  right on the difference between “promise” and “action”.

(bottom) Michael Gove, from June 11, 2017.

We’ve done a detailed exposé of Michael Gove already, in this article from Miles King. Here’s Gove shows his ability to retain figures between his ears in recent weeks. He should go far. As far away as possible.


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About Peter Crosskey 283 Articles

Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.