SPECULATION IS growing of a forthcoming cabinet reshuffle that would see Margaret Beckett leave DEFRA to succeed Ian McCartney as party chair, reports The Independent.

The paper predicts that Mrs Beckett‘s shoes could be filled by Tessa Jowell leaving a vacancy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 

Mrs Beckett is the first minister to run DEFRA since the department replaced MAFF in June 2001.

After Labour‘s general election win, the Prime Minister decided a new department with a new and up-to-date brief would better serve the wider interests of the environment.

Her appointment was viewed as a step in the right direction by some of the UK‘s farming unions.

The appointment of a senior politician was seen as signal that the attention and resources needed would be focused on resolving the issues facing UK agriculture.