As I look back from my new role as Leader of the House and reflect on the hard work that my team put in whilst I was Environment Secretary, I am proud of how much we achieved together in such a short space of time.
Farming is at the heart of all our lives; our food chain from farm to fork adds around £110 billion to the UK economy each year. Food and drink is already the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – adding more value to our economy that the car and aerospace industries combined. Our exports are increasing: non-EU dairy exports are up 91 per cent, wheat exports are up 80 per cent and, a real success, English sparkling wine continues to take the world by storm!
As we leave the EU, the fundamentals of the sector are strong. On joining Defra, I set out two clear long-term ambitions. First, to make a resounding success of our world-leading food and farming industry; producing more, selling more, and exporting more of our Great British food. Second, to become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. These ambitions look far beyond tomorrow: they are about long-lasting change and real reform – an even greater food and farming nation that works for everyone.
I wish my friend and colleague, Michael Gove, the very best as he takes on the mantle of Environment Secretary; he has a great team around him to help him ensure that British farming and agri-food sectors remain global leaders.
As we move forward into this new parliamentary session, I am absolutely focused on securing the result of last year’s referendum and leaving the EU with the best deal possible. However, we are also bringing forward a whole raft of measures that are focused on improving the lives of hard-working people in this country.
On the economy, we have bills that will ensure opportunities for our young people with new high-skilled training and an expansion of apprenticeships, our pioneering space flight bill will put Britain at the forefront of emerging technologies in commercial satellites and space flight, and we’ll also be bringing forward the autonomous and electric vehicles legislation. On the social side of legislation, I am exceptionally pleased that we have strong new measures on improving the mental health and well-being of the nation – a huge personal priority for me in government – as well as legislation to protect people from the horrors of domestic violence.
I am optimistic about all that we can achieve in the months and years ahead, as this Conservative government gets on with the job of delivering on Brexit and legislating in the national interest.