More than 100 MPs and peers demand government bans ‘cruel’ animal fur sales

Carrie Johnson has previously described those who buy fur as ‘sick’

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 31 August 2021 17:56 BST
Fur Free Britain pleads for MPs to ban import of animal fur

Boris Johnson’s government has been accused of allowing the UK to “outsource animal cruelty” as more than 100 MPs and peers demand a ban on fur sales.

The cross-party group of 102 parliamentarians has written to environment secretary George Eustace to call on the government to ban the import and sale of animal fur in the UK.

The letter comes 20 years after animal fur farming was banned across Britain, although the government still allows it to be imported and sold.

Carrie Johnson, the prime minister’s wife, previously responded to a report in The Independent on conditions at a Polish fur farm by saying that anyone who buys fur is “sick”.

In their letter, the group of MPs and peers said: “Despite banning fur farming in 2000, the UK currently allows imports of tens of millions of pounds of animal fur each year.”

The group added: “By continuing to allow the sale of fur, we are exercising a double standard, and effectively outsourcing animal cruelty.”

Labour MP Maria Eagle said banning the sale of fur could also help prevent future pandemics by reducing the demand for fur farms – which are believed by some experts to act as “reservoirs” for new viruses.

She said: “The coronavirus pandemic should force governments the world over to reconsider the way we farm, keep and interact with animals. Exploiting fur-bearing wild species in unsanitary, overcrowded and inhumane factory farms is not only cruel, but also imposes potentially devastating public health risks.”

Conservative MP Christian Wakeford, one of the backbenchers who helped coordinate the letter, claimed Brexit offered the UK the chance to “set a global example on animal welfare”.

Previously, the government had claimed that a sales ban in the UK would be incompatible with EU rules on animal welfare and imports.

In May, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a call for evidence on post-Brexit animal welfare standards – and is understood to be considering a ban on fur sales.

Mr Wakeford said: “The UK has entered a new chapter in its trading relationship with the rest of the world. Banning fur sales will send a strong message that we intend to use this new beginning to set ourselves apart as world leaders in animal welfare.”

The Tory MP added: “There has never been a better time to end our association with this cruel, outdated and unnecessary practice and I hope the strength of cross-party feeling on this issue encourages the government to introduce a ban at the earliest opportunity.”

In June, a group of 60 vets and virologists also wrote to Mr Eustace warning of the dangers posed to public health by fur farms.

A recent opinion poll by Yonder showed 72 per cent of the British public supported a ban on fur sales. SNP MP Lisa Cameron said the government should “take heed of public sentiment” and pursue a fur sales ban “without delay”.

The call comes as Defra announced that Geronimo the alpaca was killed after a court-ordered destruction warrant, after the animal twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

Downing Street has expressed sympathy for Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald, while chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said it was “a terribly sad situation”.

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