2 October 2000
‘Labour has no sympathy for country’

By Isabel Davies in Bournemouth

THE Government has no concern for the future health of the countryside, claims shadow agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo.

Speaking at a Country Landowners Association fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth, Mr Yeo lashed Labours rural credentials.

Mr Yeo admitted the previous Conservative government had made mistakes, but insisted the present government was making things worse.

“I fear it is now clear that their priorities are not those of rural areas. Their sympathies are not for rural traditions.

“Their concerns are not for the future health of the countryside.”

Mr Yeo pledged that a Tory government would try to put the heartbeat back in the countryside.

And he said the party believed that farming was important to the future of Britain.

He added: “We believe the best guardian of the rural environment is a prosperous and enlightened landowner.”

Outlining his priorities, Mr Yeo said he would be prepared to fight for more honest food labelling, even if it was in the face of European law.

“If we try and pass a law and are taken to court for having infringed some European regulation, then I am happy for a Conservative government to use your (taxpayers) money to fight that case to establish the principal of honesty in labelling”.

On the issue of red tape, he said Britain should not enforce more quickly or more toughly any European regulation than other European countries do.

Answering questions from the floor, Mr Yeo said he did not believe that withdrawing from the Common Agricultural Policy was a practical policy for the Conservatives to adopt.