26 May 2000
Fight like the French, Brown told

FARM minister Nick Brown has come under attack from Tory MPs – for not being more like the French.

At agriculture questions in the Commons on Thursday (25 May) Mr Brown was criticised for not fighting hard enough for British agriculture.

This was contrasted with the vigorous way in which France defends its producers.

Speaking on the crisis in the pig industry, Conservative Edward Leigh said the bullish French would never put up with the situation.

“We want a minister who is less nice and acts more like a Frenchman,” he claimed.

Bonjour Madame Speaker,” retorted Mr Brown.

This is an example of Parliamentary humour, says Simon Hoggart of The Guardian, “completely unamusing out of context, but at the time, frightfully dreary.”

He adds that Mr Browns response that “the classic pig cycle has plummeted”, sounded like the storyboard from a Warner Bros cartoon.

Robert Hardman for The Daily Telegraph says Mr Brown would find it hard to be nasty and spent the entire agricultural questions being nice.

The minister insisted he was not hiding any information on the furore over GM tainted seeds, claiming he had gone out of his way to be candid to the house.

And, says the newspaper, Mr Brown indicated he was willing to meet National Farmers Union members in Scarborough.

This was despite facing the prospect of “being grumbled at” by farmers over the bank holiday, says The Telegraph.