‘Britain would be better off out of Europe’, says minister who wants more laws to be decided by UK parliament
Environment minister Owen Paterson says Britain would 'do better making own laws'He calls TV gardener Alan Tichmarsh a 'muppet' over ash tree crisis criticismDenies Conservative Party has lost touch with country roots
Reinforces Tory split over wind farms calling them 'inappropriate'Pledges to see through badger cullSlams fishing laws and pledges to end quota system
18:04 GMT, 8 December 2012
A cabinet minister today said Britain would be better off out of Europe, declaring: 'We want our country back'.
Referring to to the raft of directives that come from Europe, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson said Britain 'would do a lot better if we made more laws locally in our own Parliament'.
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Paterson also defended his handling of the ash tree crisis and branded TV gardener Alan Tichmarsh a 'muppet' for criticising him.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson (left) clashed with TV gardener Alan Tichmarsh (right) over the ash tree crisis, branding the celebrity a 'muppet'
He also warned current fishing policies are a 'disaster', pledged to see through the badger cull and, in a departure from Government policy, said shale gas is a preferable alternative to wind farms.
Mr Paterson told the Daily Telegraph Europe's determination to save the single currency was isolating Britain, but said the country would be better for being left behind.
'If in order to resolve the Euro crisis there has to be this new arrangement that’s effectively creating a new country from which we’re excluded, (then) we want to get our country back, which means making our laws in our own Parliament…
'We would do a lot better if we made a lot more laws locally in Europe,' he said.
The former Northern Ireland Secretary also defended the Government's handling of the ash tree crisis
MP Mr Paterson said wind farms were 'inappropriate' and defended his handling of the ash tree crisis in the wide-ranging interview
The MP has also reiterated the Government's commitment to a badger cull to stop the spread of TB in cows
On Thursday he announced a ban on imports of the trees from Europe to stop the spread of a bacteria which is causing them to die, but Mr Tichmarsh thinks this should have been done earlier.
The celebrity gardener also accused the Government of 'losing its roots' in rural areas, but Mr Paterson said he hadn't been paying enough attention.
'He is a complete muppet, missed completely everything we're doing,' he said.
And the Environment minster slammed current fishing policies, saying they threaten to destroy the British industry
In a diversion from Conservative policy, Mr Paterson said wind farms were 'inappropriate' and 'matured in the Middle Ages', and said Britain should follow the United States and invest in shale gas, which doesn't require public subsidy, unlike wind farms.
On fish stocks, he says the current Common Fisheries Policy is driving British fisherman out of business and revealed the Coalition is close to securing a ban on discards by which 'perfectly good fish' are dumped dead overboard because they don’t count towards the quota.
Mr Paterson said the badger cull, to stop the spread of TB in cows, would go ahead next year after being postponed due to a combination of legal challenges and the animals going into hibernation.