Jeremy Corbyn has branded fox hunting “barbarity” and pledged to keep blood sports banned on animal welfare grounds.
Mr Corbyn, who grew up in rural Shropshire, said the first speech he had ever given when at school was at a debate in favour of banning such cruel sports.
The Labour leader’s intervention comes after Theresa May says she would give MPs a vote in the House of Commons on whether to scrap the Hunting Act and re-instate the animal killings.
The Tory Prime Minister says she supports legalising fox hunting, which were banned by the last Labour government.
Mr Corbyn told supports at a rally: “I grew up in rural Shropshire and the first speech I ever made in my school was of the need to ban fox hunting, hare coursing, badger baiting, and even in those days otter hunting
“It was a strongly rural area and I lost the debate. But I was in Parliament with Angela and others when we finally got the law changed and got the hunting ban through. I was there when we got the badger baiting ban through as well.
“You can be very clear that any government I am head of would not tolerate this kind of barbarity which his called sport in this country.”
A new poll by Survation released this morning found that 67 per cent of voters believe fox hunting should stay banned.
Half of all voters say they feel so strongly about fox hunting that a candidate’s stance backing the killings would put them off voting for them.
The Tory manifesto pledges: “We will grant a free vote, on a government bill in government time, to give parliament the opportunity to decide the future of the Hunting Act.”
The Conservatives' 2010 manifesto also pledged a similar free vote on repealing the hunting ban but David Cameron's narrow majority prevented one from being held. Current polls suggests Ms May would not be so constrained.
Speaking last month the Prime Minister said she had “always supported fox hunting”.
“Some of the other forms of dealing with foxes can be cruel, so my view is it should be a free vote for Parliament so members of parliament individually should be able to exercise their view on this matter,” she told ITV News.
A plot by pro-hunt Tories to bring back the sport was revealed in a leaked email last month. Lord Mancroft, the chair of the Council of Hunting Associations, described the 8 June vote as “the chance we have been waiting for” to overturn the ban.
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