Brexiteer MP says his 'French-speaking' dogs should be able to keep free movement rights

Bob Stewart says his dogs regularly cross the Channel and should not lose out

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Tuesday 16 June 2020 17:16
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Tory MP asks about ensuring his dogs can travel to France after Brexit

A Brexiteer Tory MP has urged the government to let his dogs keep their freedom of movement rights after Britain leaves the EU.

Bob Stewart, the MP for Beckenham, said his "French-speaking" hounds crossed the Channel regularly on their EU "pet passports".

Millions of Britons are set to lose the ability to live and work freely on the continent at the end of the year as a result of the UK's departure from the bloc.

But animals may also be affected, with no direct replacement of the pet passport scheme yet agreed and the future uncertain.

"Our two French-speaking dogs cross the Channel several times a year on a pet passport," Mr Stewart said during a parliamentary debate on Brexit trade negotiations.

"And on their behalf, and on behalf of all other dog owners that take their labradors... on behalf of all pet owners who take their dogs abroad on a pet passport, can I ask if there will be similar arrangements after December 31?"

Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, who was taking questions in the House of Commons, said he sympathised with the situation but would not give specifics on any replacement for pet passports.

"Yes, I completely sympathise with [Mr Stewart] and many, many other responsible pet owners," he said.

"In my previous role [as environment secretary], we made sure that we worked on arrangements in order to ensure that travellers could take their pets abroad when they are visiting the European Union and vice versa."

Speaking in French, Mr Gove added: "We always defend the rights of dogs."

Michael Gove answers questions in the House of Commons

Mr Stewart has previously argued against free movement, arguing in May 2017 that keeping it would "nullify Brexit" and that Britain therefore had to leave the single market.

Until the end of the transition period, anyone travelling to the EU with pets can move freely as long as their animal has been issued with a pet passport.

That may change from the end of the year, with possible requirements for vet visits to have vaccines and procure an animal health certificate, unless the UK is granted an exemption.

Under the worst case-scenario of a no-deal Brexit, taking a pet to the EU will likely require a four-month advanced process that includes microchipping, a rabies vaccination, a blood test and a three-month wait to travel after the blood test.

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