Speaking an at election event in Leeds, Theresa May said she has “always been in favour of foxhunting” and that it is now up to parliament to make a decision on the act. If the ban is lifted it could see fox hunting return to England and Wales by 2022.
She said: “As it happens, personally, I’ve always been in favour of fox hunting and we maintain our commitment – we had a commitment previously – as a Conservative Party to allow a free vote and that would allow Parliament to take a decision on this.”
The Fox Hunting Act was introduced in 2004 by Tony Blair’s Labour government, which banned the use of dogs for hunting foxes and wild animals.
A spokesperson from the RSPCA, which has long campaigned to retain the act, said: “We believe that chasing and killing live animals with dogs is barbaric, outdated and has no place in modern Britain.”
The welfare charity added: “A repeal of the Hunting Act would not only give a green light to resuming fox deer and mink hunting, hare hunting and coursing, it would also allow those who use terriers and lurchers to fight and kill foxes, deer, hares and mink.”
Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner welcomed the news, saying that the introduction of the act was a “misplaced and prejudiced attack” on a group within the rural community and had “failed”.
He said: “Overturning the ban and allowing properly conducted hunting with dogs to restart would correct an historic injustice and get rid of one of the most illiberal laws passed in modern times. At the same time it would relieve the police and courts of a substantial burden and allow hunt staff to carry out their jobs without the constant fear of prosecution.”
Conservatives Against Fox Hunting Co- Founder Lorraine Platt said the move by the PM is “toxic” and could see the Conservatives lose support from key voters.
“It will certainly alienate support for the Conservative party. Many Conservative supporters have told us that they withheld their votes at the 2015 election because of this issue and will do so again at the next Election if it is included in the manifesto.
She added: “It is important that the Prime Minister is aware that there is as much support in the Countryside as there is in urban areas for the ban. Mrs May risks sacrificing her wider appeal for the sake of appeasing the hunting lobby which further enforces the view that she is out of touch with the majority opinion on this issue. It is dispiriting to see the Prime Minister supporting a blood sport which is overwhelmingly opposed by the general public.”
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