Theresa May faces Conservative backlash over fox hunting repeal 'folly'
Theresa May’s plans to reinstate fox hunting in England have come under fire from a number of senior Conservatives.
The Prime Minister said yesterday she favoured overturning the ban on the blood sport, and committed to holding a free vote in the Commons on the issue if the Tories win the election.
Since then, a number of Conservatives, including Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, have pledged to oppose any effort to repeal the 2004 law enacted by the Labour government prohibiting fox hunting.
Ms Crouch, one of the patrons of the Conservatives Against Fox Hunting group, tweeted:
Sir Roger Gale, another patron of the anti-hunting Tory group, said it was a “folly” to try to reverse the ban.
"We have more than enough to occupy parliamentary time with Brexit and all that follows,” he added.
“I cannot see many Conservative votes for fox hunting in marginal seats we are hoping to win.”
Mrs May told a Daily Mirror journalist yesterday: “As it happens personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting and we maintain our commitment - we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party - to allow a free vote.
“And that's what it will allow, would allow, Parliament the opportunity to take a decision on this."
The Conservatives' last attempt to repeal the ban was shelved in 2015 after between 30 and 40 of the party’s own MPs voiced their opposition to the move.
Lorraine Platt, co- founder of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting, said the issue was a “vote loser” that would “alienate” the public.
She added that the number of Conservative MPs who have no appetite for repeal was “increasing”.
“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,” Ms Platt said.
“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.”
Tory backbencher Heidi Allen also urged the Prime Minister to leave the law as it is.