SHADOW EFRA minister David Drew MP told a rural reception at Labour’s autumn conference that uncertainty caused by Brexit risks damaging the British countryside.

Speaking at the reception hosted by BASC and the Angling Trust at the conference in Brighton, he warned that the political turmoil caused by Brexit was derailing crucial legislative work on key issues, notably the Agriculture Bill.

“It’s chaos at the moment because of the fixation on Brexit,” Mr Drew said. “Other work is not taking place, work that is essential to the health and success of our countryside and coastal regions.

“Countryside issues matter to Labour and the party wants to make sure the environment is top of the agenda.”

BASC council member Martyn Jones – a Labour MP for 23 years until his retirement at the 2010 general election – also spoke at the reception.

He said: “It is important that Labour recognises the importance of its rural constituents and it will not succeed as a party if it ignores those voices from the British countryside.”

Martin Salter, who now works as head of policy at the Angling Trust after stepping down as a Labour MP in 2010, said: “Angling and shooting are sports enjoyed by people of various different backgrounds.

“We must all continue to work hard to build cross-party support for our sports and we need to ensure that Labour stands full-square behind all sports that need a healthy rural environment to thrive.”