East London MP Jim Fitzpatrick appointed minister for the horse

  • Minister for the horse, Jane Kennedy, resigned on Monday after refusing to pledge her support for Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

    In her place, Mr Brown has appointed East London MP Jim Fitzpatrick.

    Mr Fitzpatrick, a former parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Transport, takes over as minister for food, farming and the environment. The 57-year-old football fan also takes over as minister for the horse.

    In her seven months in office, Jane Kennedy openly pledged her support for the horse industry, but in reality had the chance to achieve very little. Sudden ill health prevented her from addressing the National Equine Forum in London in March — a much-awaited chance for the industry to pose questions to the minister.

    In her place, Jim Fitzpatrick appears on the surface to be as far removed from horses, farming and the rural environment as is possible.

    MP for Poplar and Canning Town, Mr Fitzpatrick moves up from his role at the Department of Transport. He was previously parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Trade and Industry.

    The Glasgow-born MP has lived in London since 1973, and is a former fire-fighter.

    On his website, www.jimfitzpatrickmp.co.uk, the new minister for food, farming and environment lists his interests as “anti-poverty, regeneration, anti-racism and fire” and his hobbies as “West Ham United FC, golf, reading, TV/films and Millwall RFC.”

    He also states: “I am here to promote the East End of London”

    There is no mention of any interest in rural affairs on his website at all.

    After her resignation on Monday, Jane Kennedy told leading news agency The Press Association: “All of my friends know about my unhappiness with the style of politics Labour are exhibiting.

    “If you are a minister in Government you have to support the Prime Minister that appoints you. You are asked ‘do you want to be in government?’. The straight answer is yes. But could I support the Prime Minister? I could not.”

    A spokesman for Gordon Brown said he regretted Ms Kennedy’s decision.

    Hilary Benn will continue as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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