Meet the new crop of MPs representing rural areas

Following the general election last week, a new crop of MPs are representing rural seats. But who are they? Abi Kay explores.

Many politicians familiar to farmers were unceremoniously dumped from parliament at the general election that swept Labour to power.

We take a look at the new MPs representing 10 rural seats across the country, to find out what they stand for.

See also: What farmers want from new government

1. Jess Asato (Lowestoft)

After a close battle, Labour’s Jess Asato beat Conservative Peter Aldous to become Lowestoft’s newest MP.

Cambridge law graduate Ms Asato is a former Islington councillor, political advisor to New Labour big beast Tessa Jowell and has worked at various thinktanks.

The priorities and commitments listed on her website do not include anything food- and farming-related, though she did visit the NFU stand at Labour conference last year.

New farming minister Daniel Zeichner has also been to her patch to speak to farmers about “prioritising food security and protecting our beautiful environment”.

Ms Asato is a member of Labour environmental group Socialist Environment and Resources Association (Sera) and has regularly discussed water quality issues on social media.

On X (formerly Twitter), she has tweeted about the need to support rural communities with investment, called for a clampdown on rural crime and backed a “Buy British” button on supermarket websites.

2. Alison Hume (Scarborough and Whitby)

Former farming minister and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee chair Sir Robert Goodwill used to represent the Scarborough and Whitby seat, which was won by Labour’s Alison Hume this time round – though he did not stand again for election in 2024.

Ms Hume is a Bafta-award winning screen writer who describes herself as “passionate about animals” and has said she will support an expansion of the Rural Task Force in her area to drive down wildlife crime.

One of the priorities listed on her website is “cleaning up rivers and seas”, and she is another Sera member.

On social media, she has shared details about her meetings with farmers who were angry about Conservative-negotiated trade deals and has claimed: “Rural issues are social justice issues.”

3. Julia Buckley (Shrewsbury)

Labour’s Julia Buckley managed to unseat Conservative Daniel Kawczynski to take the ultra-rural seat of Shrewsbury.

A former councillor with a PhD in politics, she used to work as a policy advisor in the European parliament.

On her website, she lists protecting rivers from sewage pollution, improvement of flood defences and improvement of local bus services among her priorities.

She has posted on X about how she spent a day helping on a farm in her patch to “get a full picture of the challenges facing farmers”, and has discussed the need to keep medical services at marts and other rural community health services in place.

Rural crime has also been a talking point on her social media channels.

4. Luke Charters (York Outer)

Luke Charters is another Labour candidate who was successful in ousting a familiar Conservative face – farmer and Efra select committee member Julian Sturdy.

An Oxford economics and politics graduate, he has previously worked at the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority.

His campaign won the backing of water campaigner Feargal Sharkey, and he is a Sera member.

He has regularly posted on social media about the plight of farmers and said they must be supported to produce home-grown food, which is “vital for our food security.”

On X, he shared details of a visit to the Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show, where he “learned about the scale of tech used in farming today.”

5. Richard Tice (Boston and Skegness)

Richard Tice is one of the more well-known names on this list, having served as leader of the Reform Party before Nigel Farage took over.

He won the Boston and Skegness seat for Reform, following a battle with his Conservative predecessor Matt Warman.

He has posted fairly regularly on social media about farming issues and net zero, claiming that  agriculture is not the problem when it comes to climate change.

He has also suggested there are opportunities post-Brexit to “make farming more competitive”, and claimed it “cannot rely on cheap overseas labour”.

In 2022, in support of farmer protests in New Zealand, he posted “farming is vital to our lives”, and said we needed “more meat and sensational milk.”

Elsewhere, he has expressed support for rooftop solar, but said panels must not be placed on agricultural land.

6. Terry Jermy (South-west Norfolk)

Labour’s Mr Jermy is able to claim one of the most well-known Conservative scalps at this election – taking former PM and Defra secretary Liz Truss’s seat.

He has listed farming and the natural environment as one of his priorities on his website, wants to see food standards in trade deals enshrined in law. In a former life as a councillor, he criticised the loss of county farms.

He also supports greater use of roof space for solar panels and is against large-scale solar farms on otherwise usable land.

Rural crime is another area Mr Jermy is keen to make progress on, pledging to work with his local police and crime commissioner to tackle the impact of hare coursing, and posting on social media about fly-tipping.

On access to the countryside, he backs opening up new rights of way and improving accessibility.

He has previously opposed planning applications for “mega farms” in his patch.

7. Sean Woodcock (Banbury)

Another former farming minister, Conservative Victoria Prentis, was taken down by Labour candidate Sean Woodcock in Banbury.

Mr Woodcock has a professional background in housing and regeneration, but during the campaign pledged to “work hard to earn every vote in rural areas”.

A Sera member, he has listed tackling climate change as one of his priorities on his website.

On social media, he has posted about how he intends to “work tirelessly” to stand up for farmers whose confidence is at an all-time low, and expressed his support for protecting them from low-standard imports.

He has, however, hinted at opposition to the badger cull on X.

8. Henry Tufnell (Mid and South Pembrokeshire)

The Tufnell name is likely familiar, and with good reason. Henry Tufnell is former Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president Mark Tufnell’s son, and defeated one-time Conservative leadership hopeful Stephen Crabb to take this key Welsh seat.

Mr Tufnell previously worked as a barrister and for a trade union, but on his website, explains how he grew up in a farming family and spent many Easters lambing and summers doing the harvest.

The site also mentions Labour’s commitment to procuring local food in the public sector, and its pledge to set high trade standards.

On social media, he has posted his support for Keir Starmer’s vision for British farming, and said a Labour government in Westminster will work with the Welsh Labour government to confront the challenges facing rural communities.

9. Torcuil Crichton (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)

Former political journalist and Labour candidate Torcuil Crichton did battle with prominent SNP character Angus MacNeil, eventually taking the Western Isles seat Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Though Mr MacNeil stood as an independent at this election, he was formerly SNP spokesperson on environment, food and rural affairs, and also chaired the International Trade select committee.

Mr Crichton has regularly posted on social media about rural issues – including depopulation, the release of wolves, off-grid heating oil and gas, rural connectivity and seasonal agricultural workers.

He has also monitored progress on post-Brexit farm payments in both Scotland and Westminster.

10. David Chadwick (Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe)

Liberal Democrat David Chadwick beat former Defra parliamentary private secretary and NFU employee Fay Jones to take the newly created seat of Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe.

Cybersecurity consultant David has listed protecting farmers in trade deals, preserving the natural environment and improved infrastructure in rural Wales as some of his key priorities.

On social media, he has said “shaping a new way forward for rural policy” should be of utmost importance for the next UK government, following a “dismal decade” for farmers.

He has also posted about fairness in supply chains, the need for a bigger agriculture budget, rural services and depopulation.

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