OWEN Paterson believes he still has a future in politics, despite being sacked as Environment Secretary less than two years into the job.
The North Shropshire MP told the Oswestry Advertizer that he was still determined to serve his constituency and the country even if it was from the backbenches.
The 58-year-old’s fate was confirmed on Monday evening as Prime Minister David Cameron made drastic changes to his Cabinet.
It follows a tough 22 months for the Tory MP as the country was hit by severe flooding, badger culling and a European vote which aimed to protect bees – plus a detached retina in February which could have left him blind.
But his firm stance made him a target for environmentalists and animal rights campaigns.
On Tuesday morning, as his replacement South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss was announced, Mr Paterson described the PM’s decision as “disappointing”.
He continued: “I have been a force in the opposition and the Government for the last 14 years.
“I have got a very clear idea on the future of this country and will continue to serve my country and constituency.”
Mr Paterson added: “I will continue my support and I wish Liz Truss good luck.”
The Whitchurch-born MP also said he stood by his DEFRA decisions which including spending almost £3.5 million of taxpayers’ cash to cull nearly 2,000 badgers in Somerset and Gloucester, playing down the importance of dredging during the height of the Winter floods – a view which was overruled by Mr Cameron – and his delay in deciding whether to support a European vote to ban pesticides that have been blamed for the decline in bee numbers.
He said: “I am disappointed not to finish. I have got a whole programme I have launched to completely galvanise DEFRA and I am disappointed that I cannot complete that work.”
Mr Paterson also said he welcomed the support which had flooded in from the likes of Lord Lawson, Lord Tebbitt and Lord Howard, as well as National Farmers’ Union president Meurig Raymond who had urged the PM to keep him in his post.
But he added he will continue to oppose critics such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who last week dumped hundreds of Wellington boots outside his DEFRA offices.
In the meantime Mr Paterson says he will continue his constituency work with a visit to Oswestry on Friday to discuss 'Shared Space', followed by time spent looking at the restoration of the Montgomery Canal on Sunday.