George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth & Hayle, and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The professional Cornishman stood for that famously green political party UKIP in the 1999 EU Parliament elections. He lost. He doesn’t promote his former affiliation on his website, of course, but if I were George Eustice I wouldn’t either.
Like Leon Trotsky, he then concluded that he could better promote the apocalypse inside a more natural party of government. How right he was! After becoming a Tory MP in 2010 by just 66 votes – which may explain why he’s passionately against reforming an electoral system we share in Europe only with Belarus – the former UKIP man assiduously worked for Brexit from within.
First he cuddled up to David Cameron (the man who made Brexit possible,) as his press secretary. Cameron then made him Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, presumably because Eustice is a (fruit) farmer, there are lots of fish in Cornwall, and everybody has to eat.
Repaying Cameron’s loyalty with deep thanks for his stupidity, Eustice campaigned for Brexit like the UKipper he now wasn’t. After “Independence Day” in 2016 he triumphantly blogged:
“In a few years’ time, once a new partnership is concluded and we see the benefits of regaining control, the only question people will ask is why we didn’t do it sooner.”
Spot on, George. I hope you’ll have those words tattooed on the undersides of your eyelids so you can read them even while asleep. Which you seem to be most of the time.
But anyway, things didn’t turn out quite like he’d told us. Eustice resigned when Theresa May pondered delaying Brexit during the political chaos orchestrated by his fellow moles in the European Research Group. His desperation to drag Brexit over the line before anyone saw what it really meant (though I prefer to call it “sod the deal: we can always break it later”, but then I’m not trying to get elected) was noted by those of like mind: Johnson reappointed Eustice, then gave him his current job of protecting the UK’s already fragile environment.
On which subject, think back: both before and for the first decades of our EU membership, the UK had some of the foulest sea and river waters in Europe. As a kid, on family seaside holidays I fondly recall my sister and I playing catch with fatbergs after a half-submerged supermarket trolley had punctured our beachball. Or was it the beak of that oiled Guillemot? But the sun always shone. That’s childhood, I suppose, and nostalgia is to the old what optimism is to the young.
But I digress. It was EU standards that stopped us soiling our own sovereign bed: our own bed! (Even the French build their nuclear reactors on borders where the prevailing winds are behind them.) Had we stayed “sovereign” in the manner Eustace craves, we’d literally have been in deeper sh*t than we are even now.
And even now, having only just left the EU, our bathing waters are dirtier than any member state’s bar Poland which, unlike us, is on the shores of an enclosed sea. We have the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the world’s second-highest tides to help cover our shame, but even that doesn’t work.
But back to Eustice’s beloved Cornwall. The main reason for the current crisis in the shellfish industry is that the UK, with its x-million miles of coast, nonetheless relied on the Dutch, with about 4 miles of coast, and other EU nations to clean our catch for us. We were too lazy and too complacent to build the infrastructure to do it ourselves. We made the sovereign decision to, er, rely on the EU.
So much for the Government’s – and Eustice’s – affront at the EU’s treatment of Cornish and other shell-fishers! So what? Eustice is a Brexiter! Let’s make him … Environment Secretary! Who cares that one of his first acts was not to rule out imports of chlorinated chicken under that always-imminent and forever-world-beating US Trade Deal.
Who cares that he’s consistently voted against green legislation in agriculture, emissions targets, transport, housing standards, carbon capture and sustainable electricity generation?
And who cares that last week the UK’s Environment Secretary – as if to mark the UK’s return to full sovereignty – rejected amendments to the Environment Bill that gave more protection to ancient woodlands and placed a legal obligation on water companies to reduce the sewage they pump into rivers?
Who cares? The real Brexiters don’t. It’s what their “sovereignty” – and it is their sovereignty – is all about.