Cabinet ministers row as No 10 set to ditch plan to ban fur and foie gras

Public ‘strongly in favour’ of ban, says Zac Goldsmith in apparent rift with Jacob Rees-Mogg

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 22 February 2022 18:03 GMT
Environment minister Zac Goldsmith
Environment minister Zac Goldsmith (PA)

A major row has broken out between cabinet ministers over a government proposal to ban the import and sale of fur and foie gras, the delicacy made from duck and goose liver.

Downing Street is thought to have gone cold on the plan and is ready to ditch legislative moves after several ministers raised their concerns.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new minister for Brexit opportunities, is among those opposed to the idea of restricting consumer choice, according to reports.

Environment minister Zac Goldsmith, the main proponent of the ban, went public with the rift on Tuesday – saying colleagues were wrong to leave “cruelty” to consumer choice.

“The public are strongly in favour of measures to curb the fur trade and foie gras,” the key ally of Boris Johnson told The Guardian.

Lord Goldsmith added: “There are some who view the issue as a matter of personal choice, but no one would extend that principle to things like dog-fighting or bear-baiting.

“So it’s not clear why fur farming or force-feeding geese, which arguably are associated with far greater levels of cruelty, should be any different.”

Fur production is already banned in the UK, and British farmers are also banned from producing the liver-based French delicacy since ducks and geese are force-fed during its production.

But government officials said in May last year that ministers would explore a ban on the import and sale of fur and foie gras under a raft of legislation designed at extending the protection of animals.

Outlining his plans to get rid of unnecessary red tape and legislation, Mr Rees-Mogg said earlier this month that he wanted people “to tell me what it is in their daily life that the government does that makes their life harder – and if I can, I will push to get rid of that”.

Sir Roger Gale, one of the Tory MP who has called for Mr Johnson to resign, suggested that the prime minister may be “trying to pander to the hard right in the Conservative party to see if he can prop up his administration”.

He added: “It’s not going to please anyone except a few hard-right MPs who regard this as woke nonsense … But reneging on these undertakings will do more harm in the parliamentary party than good.”

No 10 has declined to say whether Mr Johnson will back the ban on the import of fur and foie gras amid reports of cabinet opposition to the plans.

Asked earlier this week whether Mr Johnson intends to ban the import of the product, his official spokesman said: “No decisions have been made on that.

The No 10 spokesman added: “The production of foie gras from ducks or geese using force feeding is rightly banned in the UK – it’s incompatible with our own welfare standards.”

Pressed if the prime minister would like to see a ban as part of the Animals Abroad Bill, he said: “I think we will need to wait for the bill, I’m not going to pre-empt that … you’ll see the position when set out.”

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