It’s director general Ian Wight said: “It is a big boost that the prime minister has appointed one of the cabinet's heaviest hitters to a ministry so significantly at the heart of Brexit. We very much look forward to working with Mr Gove and his new team.
“With them, and with friends from National Farmers Union and across UK food and drink, we will champion the growth of the industry in the exciting months to come.”
Gove made a return to Theresa May’s cabinet yesterday (June 11), after being sacked last year. He takes over as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) boss from Andrea Leadsom, who was appointed leader of the House of Commons.
Restructuring agricultural subsidies
The new environment secretary will be tasked with forming a UK food and farming policy – including the restructuring of British agricultural subsidies after Brexit.
Reacting to his appointment, Gove said: “I was quite surprised, I have to say. I genuinely didn’t expect this role.
“I am delighted to be part of the government, I am delighted to be able to support Theresa to ensure that we have a government capable of delivering on the people’s wishes,” he told Sky News.
Following Gove’s appointment, foreign secretary Boris Johnson welcomed the new environment secretary back to the cabinet.
Johnson said on Twitter: “It’s a GOVErnment of all talents. Welcome back to Michael!”
‘It’s a GOVErnment’
Prominent Leave campaigner Gove drew criticism in 2013, after he planned to drop climate change from the geography national curriculum, when he was education secretary. Gove claimed the move, which was subsequently dropped, was designed to cut the national curriculum, as opposed to an opposition to the science.
Gove’s claim that Britain has had enough of experts also drew criticism prior to the EU referendum. He said: “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts, with organisations from acronyms, saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.”
Meanwhile, some observers claimed that Gove’s appointed was part of May’s plan to subdue any potential leadership challenge. It comes after the prime minister began talks with right-wing Northern Ireland party the Democratic Union Party (DUP), after the general election.
On Saturday (June 10), a Downing Street statement said a “confidence and supply” deal had been agreed with the DUP. But, DUP leader Arlene Foster said talks were ongoing, and would continue this week.
How the newspapers reacted to Gove’s appointment
- i newspaper – ‘Gove is back as May tries to rebuild’
- The Daily Telegraph – ‘May calls in Gove to save her from leadership challenge’
- The Guardian – ‘May appeals for support as her future hangs in balance’
- The Times – ‘May signals soft Brexit in cabinet reshuffle’
- The Sun – ‘Binning May is a no-no’
- Financial Times – ‘May faces showdown after being labelled ‘dead woman walking’’