Defra distrust deepens as waste minister exits

Lord Taylor has vacated his post as waste minister at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) in what appears to be a last-minute cabinet reshuffle switch.

Lord Taylor’s promotion to the Home Office as parliamentary under secretary of state leaves Defra currently without a waste minister.

However yesterday it appointed a replacement to Taylor in Lord de Mauley as parliamentary under secretary of State, following the appointment of Somerton & Frome MP David Heath as minister of state.

The department has yet to reveal details of either ministerial portfolio, but says these will be “available shortly”.

Meanwhile this surprise twist has left key figures in the waste sector guessing who will take over the reins from Lord Taylor who spent less than a year in his Defra post.

On hearing the news, Steve Lee, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, tweeted: “Sorry to see Lord Taylor go as waste minister – seemed pretty genuine. Not yet known who is taking over or if same remit. Lets wait and see.”

Meanwhile cynicism is growing over Defra’s new figureheads, especially the green credentials of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

According to Sky News’ political correspondent Sophy Ridge, a Lib Dem source told her that Paterson’s promotion was “toxic” as he was a “climate change denying headbanger”.

And in an astonishing attack on twitter, Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh has accused the Prime Minister of being sexist with the exit of Paterson’s predecessor Caroline Spelman.

“Cameron told Spelman she was too old to be Defra secretary at 54. He replaced her with Owen Paterson, 56. Women voters will remember this,” she tweeted.

Maxine Perella

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