One of the stranger appointments of this reshuffle so far has been Rory Stewart being sent to Defra. The former chair of the Defence Select Committee does represent a rural constituency, but the obvious choice given his service in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been the Ministry of Defence. Perhaps this wasn’t possible given his passionate arguments in favour of maintaining defence spending at 2 per cent of GDP, which the Tories have refused to do.
But another obvious choice would have been the Scotland Office, given his passion for the Union – and the location of his seat. During the referendum campaign, Stewart organised his own event called ‘hands across the border’, which involved building a large cairn of painted stones in honour of the Union. Ever since, he has been thinking about how to keep the United Kingdom together.
It seems an odd waste not to send him to one of those departments, instead effectively silencing him at Defra.