Jeremy Hunt sparks angry backlash as he calls for end to fox hunting ban
Jeremy Hunt has come under fire after he threw his weight behind calls for the ban on fox hunting to be lifted.
The Tory leadership hopeful said if he became Prime Minister, he would look to put the issue to a Commons vote once there was a strong enough majority to see it pass.
Speaking to Chopper's Brexit Podcast Mr Hunt said: "I would vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting.
“It is part of the countryside. And we have to recognise that in terms of the balance of the countryside. You know, it's part of our heritage."
But his surprise comments were condemned by MPs from across the political spectrum.
Wales Office minister Kevin Foster said there was "no chance of such a majority for this cruel and long banned activity to come back".
Writing on Twitter he said: "Time to move on with animal welfare gains, not go back decades."
That view was echoed by fellow Tory MP Julian Knight, who said the party "can't seriously be talking about this again".
The ban on hunting foxes and other wild mammals with dogs was introduced in 2004 under Tony Blair's government.
Labour chair Ian Lavery said: "This Tory leadership race is going from bad to worse. We’ve had Johnson’s tax cuts for the wealthy, a race to the bottom on no-deal Brexit, and now a pledge to bring back this barbaric practice that Labour had proudly banned."
Theresa May promised her party a similar free vote on repealing fox hunting ahead of the 2017 election.
The Prime Minister said she had "always been in favour of fox hunting" and pledged to allow Parliament "the opportunity to take a decision on this".
But Mrs May was forced to ditch the plans after the Conservatives failed to win a majority at the snap poll.