Michael Moore says his focus will now be firmly on constituency issues after being axed from his role as Secretary of State for Scotland.
The Borders MP has listed farming, fishing and broadband provision among his priorities after being replaced in the cabinet on Monday by Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael in a reshuffle of the party’s senior team at Westminster.
Although disappointed to be sacked from the role he had held since May 2010, Moore insists he won’t allow it to get in the way of his way as he turns his attention towards getting the best deal possible for the Borders in a number of key areas.
“I’m still very much part of the Liberal Democrat team and I want to continue to represent my constituents as best I can,” he said.
“Both before and during my time as Secretary of State what was most important to me was to do a good job on behalf of my constituents and I strive to continue doing that.”
MP for the Borders since 1997, Moore has highlighted three main priority areas for Berwickshire as he comes to terms with losing his cabinet position: the agricultural industry; better broadband provision; and building on the links he’s forged between the region and Westminster.
The Galashiels-based MP is now preparing to work ever more closely with local businesses,such as Duns-based Farne Salmon, which he visited in August to launch a new £1.2million production facility.
“We’re at a critical time for the future of farming at the moment,” he told us.
“CAP negotiations and will work hard to ensure that folk in Berwickshire don’t lose out. I’ve visited a number of local farms in the last few months and I know that the agricultural sector is vital to the area’s economy.
“Then there’s broadband. There’s still a huge challenge ahead to ensure that the Borders gets the new investment it requires. It’s been an issue I’ve campaigned on for years and we need to make sure that the region’s share of Scottish Government money is sufficient and spent wisely.
“Most broadly of all, I will have more time to focus on constituency issues and strengthen the already strong connections with Westminster.”
One of those connections he plans to exploit is a strong relationship with his successor.
“Alistair Carmichael is a friend of mine and has actually spent time in Berwickshire previously, visiting Eyemouth fishermen,” he added. “He gets the importance of agriculture, fishing and small businesses to an area like ours and I aim to work closely with him.”
Moore has this week been widely praised for his achievements as Scottish secretary.
But despite carrying out negotiations on the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence very competently, his elbows are not sharp enough for Nick Clegg. He sees Carmichael as a more robust political fighter capable of inflicting damage on Alex Salmond.
A number of organisations have expressed their shock at the decision to sack Moore.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “Michael Moore has fishing in his constituency and was a consistently good friend to the Scottish fishing industry. Whenever cabinet level support was appropriate, he was invariably right there with us. “We thank him for all his efforts on our behalf and we will be sad to see him go.”
Jack Clark, convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, said: “Everyone in the Borders will be disappointed. Michael has been an effective and intelligent Scottish Secretary, not least for his role in framing the Scotland Act and the Edinburgh Agreement which sets the terms of next year’s independence referendum.
“I have always been struck by his passion for people and his kindness. It is not surprising that he is liked and respected across the political divide.”