Theresa May pledges new vote to end ban on foxhunting.

May 10th 2017,  The Times

Theresa May promised MPs the chance to repeal the 12-year-old ban on foxhunting yesterday as she voiced her personal support for the practice.

The prime minister said that she had “always been in favour of foxhunting” after a Conservative peer claimed that a Tory majority of 50 after the general election, considered by pollsters to be easily within reach, could be enough to overturn the Hunting Act.

Some Tories questioned that assessment but Mrs May’s surprise commitment will rally countryside sports activists to help the party’s election efforts.

A ban on hunting foxes and other wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales was introduced under Tony Blair in 2004, becoming law the following year. Anti-hunting groups say that most voters support it.

Conservative campaign sources had refused to say whether Mrs May would repeat previous manifesto pledges to offer a free vote on overturning the ban.

Some Tories questioned that assessment but Mrs May’s surprise commitment will rally countryside sports activists to help the party’s election efforts.

A ban on hunting foxes and other wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales was introduced under Tony Blair in 2004, becoming law the following year. Anti-hunting groups say that most voters support it.

Conservative campaign sources had refused to say whether Mrs May would repeat previous manifesto pledges to offer a free vote on overturning the ban.

During a visit to a factory in Leeds, she said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against. As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of foxhunting, and we maintain our commitment . . . to allow a free vote. It would allow parliament the opportunity to take the decision on this.”

Mrs May voted against the ban in 2004 and rejected suggestions in 2009, from the astronomer Patrick Moore, that her position showed a “love of cruelty”. “It’s about a method of actually keeping fox numbers down,” she said.

The League Against Cruel Sports accused the prime minister of elitism. “This smacks of a small minority with a cruel hobby wielding an inappropriately large influence over the people in charge,” Eduardo Goncalves, director of the charity, said. “Are we really going to turn the clock back to a time when killing animals for fun was legal?”

Pro-hunting groups, including the Countryside Alliance, welcomed the prime minister’s comments. In a letter to hunt masters, written before the announcement, the Tory peer Lord Mancroft said that “a majority of 50 or more would give us a real opportunity for repeal of the Hunting Act”. Lord Mancroft, chairman of the Council of Hunting Associations, called on hunts to support sympathetic candidates. “This is by far the best opportunity we have had since the ban, and is probably the best we are likely to get in the foreseeable future,” he said. He urged them to help Vote OK, which co-ordinates support for the Tories at elections.

Pro-hunting MPs include Andrea Leadsom, the environment secretary. Tory opponents include Tracey Crouch, the sports minister, Caroline Dinenage, the equality minister, and the former justice minister Dominic Raab. All are patrons of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting. Sir Roger Gale, another patron, said up to 50 Tory MPs had opposed a repeal in the last parliament and there was little to suggest the new intake would be more in favour.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s