SCARBOROUGH and Whitby MP - and Ryedale farmer- Robert Goodwill has been appointed as the new farming and fishing minister, replacing George Eustice who quit recently over Theresa May’s handling of Brexit.

Mr Goodwill was welcomed to the role by Michael Gove, secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who tweeted: “Delighted to welcome Robert Goodwill to the Defra team.

“Robert’s hands-on knowledge of farming at the sharp end, experience in European politics, great ministerial record and shrewd judgment are an asset to Government.”

Mr Goodwill, who describes himself as a “staunch Eurosceptic”, has also been welcomed to the post by farming lobby groups.

Tim Breitmeyer, the president of the Country Land and Business Association(CLA), said: “We would like to welcome Robert Goodwill to the role which comes at a critical time for farming.

“As a farmer himself he will be all too aware of the major issues and uncertainties landowners and farmers are currently facing across their businesses, and will have an innate understanding of the vital role they play for society as producers of food and stewards of the countryside. This can only be a positive for our members and the wider farming community.

“We know from previous ministerial roles that Robert is willing to listen and engage on the issues that matter and we are looking forward to him continuing the good work of his predecessor and working together to deliver a bright future for the rural economy.”

CLA director North Dorothy Fairburn added: “Given the current political uncertainty, we are encouraged that another farmer would fill this role.

“We know Robert well in his capacity as an MP for Scarborough and Whitby, and his awareness of farming issues will no doubt stand him in good stead.”

A former MEP, from 1999 to 2004, Mr Goodwill was one of Yorkshire’s three conservative members of the European Parliament. Prior to his political career, he studied agriculture at Newcastle University before returning to work as a farmer on his family’s 250-acre farm near Terrington.

In the October 2013 reshuffle, Mr Goodwill was promoted to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, and was promoted to Minister of State in December 2015. In July 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Mr Goodwill as Minister of State for Immigration.

He moved to become Children and Families Minister in June 2017 before leaving the Government in January 2018. Mr Goodwill returned to the Government as Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Minister in March 2019.

Meanwhile, NFU president Minette Batters said: “I would like to congratulate Robert Goodwill on his appointment as the new Agriculture Minister and I am looking forward to working with him at such a critical time for Britain’s food and farming industry.

“I will be seeking a meeting with Mr Goodwill as a matter of priority to discuss the pressing issues currently facing farmers and growers, in particular the impact ongoing Brexit uncertainty is having on farm businesses and the need for Parliament to reach a deal with the EU, avoiding the devastating impacts of a no-deal Brexit.

“This is a pivotal time for British farming. The Agriculture Bill currently going through Parliament presents an opportunity to shape agricultural policy for generations to come.

“I will be stressing to the Minister the importance of having food production at the heart of this new policy, alongside measures to protect and enhance our cherished countryside.”