UK farming minister to leave government

Farming minister Jane Kennedy has left Defra following reports she refused to pledge loyalty to the Prime Minister after a tough polling week for the government.

Kennedy, who only joined the department in October 2008, is alleged to have been sacked by Gordon Brown after she was unable to back him as leader.

Meanwhile, her former boss, Hilary Benn, will remain in his position after a hectic Friday and weekend, which saw many big-name colleagues fall.

Surviving his second major Gordon Brown reshuffle, Benn will now probably continue as Defra Secretary right up to the next general election.

Benn said: “I am delighted to be continuing as Secretary of State at Defra. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We need to feed an extra 3bn people by 2050, to adapt to the demands of a changing climate that will affect the way we live and do business, and to protect the environment on which our economic security ultimately depends.

“To do all of these things, we must have a strong farming industry, an environment that supports our own health and well-being and an economy that is sustainable and low-carbon.”

The Leeds Central MP has been the head of the department now since June 2007.

Benn’s Defra predecessor David Miliband has also survived the changes to the Prime Minister’s cabinet after publicly stating his support for Gordon Brown.

Former long-serving Defra Secretary Margaret Beckett was not so fortunate, leaving her role as housing minister after only returning to front-line politics in October.

Former Under Secretary to Defra Ben Bradshaw has been appointed to the cabinet for the first time in his career as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary of State.