Driffield News

Farmer – Sir Greg ‘out of touch’ with his constituents

A Driffield farmer has described Sir Greg Knight as ‘out of touch’ with his constituents and ‘past his sell-by date’ after hearing of the East Yorkshire MP’s continued support for prime minister Boris Johnson.

The Wolds Weekly reported how Sir Greg was still throwing his weight behind Mr Johnson despite Sue Gray’s damning report into the breach of lockdown rules at Downing Street and Whitehall, for which 126 fines were issued.

Sir Greg, who has represented East Yorkshire since 2001, said he is now awaiting the results of an inquiry by the Commons Privileges Committee that will decide whether the prime minister deliberately misled Parliament during statements he made to the House of Commons about the COVID rule breaches.

There has been enough evidence for any sensible person to see that the prime minister is not fit for the role, yet Sir Greg is defending him.

PAUl temple

Having read his MP’s defence of Mr Johnson, Paul Temple, of Wold Farm, on Scarborough Road, said he was dismayed at the response, believing it’s a view that does not reflect those of Sir Greg’s constituents.

This is particularly pertinent for the area at a time when farmers are faced with rising prices for feed, fertiliser, fuel and labour, staff shortages, Brexit red tape and competition from cheap imports.

Paul told the Wolds Weekly that Sir Greg’s defence of the prime minister is ‘astonishing’ and concerning.

“Sir Greg’s response last week in supporting Boris Johnson was sadly typical of many MPs in walking away from the responsibility to hold his obvious lack of leadership and poor judgment to account,” said Paul, who was named Farmers Weekly Mixed Farmer of the Year in 2021.

“Sir Greg now says he wants to wait until yet another investigation is carried out.

“When I saw what he had said, I was really disappointed.

“This area does not make a lot of fuss about things, gets on with life and follows the rules.

“We have had a dreadful example of poor leadership from Boris Johnson, who is effectively misleading people and can’t talk straight to anyone.

“There has been enough evidence for any sensible person to see that the prime minister is not fit for the role, yet Sir Greg is defending him.

“To be so out of touch with his constituents, the values they hold and the genuine anger they feel is both astonishing and of concern.

“It contrasts badly with fellow Yorkshire MP Julian Sturdy (MP for York Outer) and many other responsible Conservative MPs who feel unable to support and defend the prime minister for obvious reasons.

“I understand the mechanics of politics and it’s not straightforward, but there comes a point in time when most decent people in this area believe that what has happened, shouldn’t have done and isn’t right.

“Whichever party they represent, you would like to think the local MP would reflect those views, because I have never known so many people in this area so frustrated and annoyed.”

A beef and arable farmer, in recent years Paul has shifted to conservation agriculture, cutting nitrogen use by a quarter and reducing use of chemical sprays.

With concerns about imported goods using chemicals that are not permitted in products made in the UK, Paul has written to Sir Greg on several occasions.

However, dissatisfied with the responses he has received, he believes the constituents of East Yorkshire are being ‘taken for granted’ and that it’s now time for a change.

“For several years, I have repeatedly asked Sir Greg for assurance that British farmers will not be disadvantaged by imports using products in their production we are unable to, particularly on pesticides now that we have left the European Union,” said Paul.

“Effectively, we are saying that these products are not safe to use in the UK, but we don’t mind somebody else using it.

“No assurance or a clear answer has been given.

“He is happy to off shore environmental responsibility and damage the competitiveness of this region’s farmers and is always waiting for something to happen.

“We’ve had six years since Brexit and have supposed to have taken control. But where are the decisions? Where is the fight?

“The pig sector is in crisis. It is so important for this area, but ignored in a sense that the rural farming heartlands are being taken for granted and concerns related to the local economy and future food supply are not taken seriously.

“I have sadly come to the conclusion that Sir Greg is past his sell-by date and it is time this area is represented by someone from the area, who understands what matters to the people they represent, fights for their future and talks straight, rather than hide behind procedure.

“I’m willing to stand up and say that this is not good enough for this area, we deserve better than this.”

In response to Mr Temple’s claims, Sir Greg Knight said: “Mr Temple is perfectly entitled to his opinions but he should accept the fact that so are the rest of the electorate.

“I am well aware that he is a long-standing opponent of Brexit, which this prime minister has delivered.

“However, leaving the EU was not just the policy of one political party.

“It was what the majority of electors voted for in the 2016 EU referendum and Mr Temple should accept that.

“Since Brexit Mr Temple has made repeated assertions to me that government ministers are ‘out of touch’ and now it appears he has added me to this list.

“On the subject of farming, as a local resident for over 22 years, I am well aware of the ongoing issues that farmers are having, some, I do accept, as a consequence of Brexit.

“Unlike Mr Temple, however, I believe that constructive engagement is more likely to be effective than throwing insults at those you disagree with.

“That is why I have had, and continue to have, meetings with ministers on the issues he raises and I have invited the Environment Secretary George Eustice MP to visit East Yorkshire to meet local farmers. I am pleased that he has accepted my invitation to do so.

“With regard to the prime minister and events in Downing Street, I am not ‘walking away’ from the issue at all.

“I am simply not willing to make a final judgment before all investigations and enquiries are completed and I am not going to be browbeaten by Mr Temple on the issue.

“Members of Parliament are not delegates, mandated by electors how to vote and what to do, but are representatives, and apply their own judgement to issues that arise.

“Of course, constituents’ wishes do have great weight with MPs, but ultimately, they make their own appraisal.

“Some questions surrounding Boris Johnson remain unanswered and I do not believe that he should be exempt from scrutiny.

“That is why on 21 April 2022, I supported, and the House of Commons passed, a motion calling for the Prime Minister to be investigated for having potentially misled Parliament.

“I have been awaiting the results of this Parliamentary Committee’s deliberations before reaching a conclusion. In the interim, this Prime Minister, elected by the public by a landslide in 2019, has had my support.

“It is my view that Mr Johnson’s future, in the absence of an adverse committee verdict, should remain a matter for the general public to decide at the next general election and ought not be prematurely terminated in the interim, as a result of pressure from anti-Brexiteers, political campaigners or Mr Temple and others who never supported him in the first place.”

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