Minister resigns to push for fair trade

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Indy Politics

One of Gordon Brown's closest political allies resigned from the Government last night to launch a personal campaign to reform the EU's common agricultural policy.

Michael Wills, a junior Home Office minister, stood down from the position - which was unpaid - to press for developing countries to be given a bigger share of international agriculture markets.

The 51-year-old, who has five children, said he wanted to use the internet to help campaign for fair trade, but insisted that he was not stepping down in protest at government policy.

Mr Wills, a wealthy former television executive, is a close friend of the Chancellor and was a colleague of Peter Mandelson at London Weekend Television during the 1980s before setting up his own television production company.

He said: "I'm not going into internal opposition. I want to open up trade in agricultural produce so that the world's poorest countries can sell freely to the market."

He added: "This has nothing to do with Gordon. He tried to persuade me to stay. I want to bring about a different kind of politics."

Mr Wills, who started his career in the diplomatic service, won his Swindon North seat in 1997 and entered the Government in 1999 as a trade and industry minister.