Farming minister George Eustice has replaced Theresa Villiers as Defra secretary as Boris Johnson conducts his first cabinet reshuffle following last year’s general election. 

Eustice is renowned for his farming background and previously held the farming and fisheries brief at Defra from 2015 to 2019.

Theresa Villiers was one of the first dismissals announced as part of Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, along with business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, despite her efforts in pushing Government to becoming net-zero.

Ian Wright CBE, chief executive Food and Drink Federation, said: “I congratulate George Eustice on his elevation to Secretary of State. George has been a fantastic advocate for the UK’s food and drink manufacturers. We are pleased he will bring a deep understanding of the sector and our priorities to the role. The FDF and our members look forward to continuing our close work together to maximise the industry’s potential through trade, exporting, skills and sustainable growth.”

In a Facebook post, Villiers responded to her sacking, commenting: “What the Prime Minister giveth, the Prime Minister taketh away: just over six months ago, I was delighted to be invited by the Prime Minister to return to government after three years on the backbenches. This morning he told me that I need to make way for someone new.

“I have spoken out strongly on the importance of ensuring our trade policy does not compromise our high standards of food safety, animal welfare or environmental protection. I remain determined to ensure that our farmers are not undercut by food imports produced to lower welfare standards than ours here in the UK.”