Jeremy Hunt pledges bring back fox hunting, claiming illegal practice is ‘part of our heritage’

‘It is part of the countryside,’ says Tory leadership candidate in appeal to party’s grassroots

Adam Forrest
Thursday 04 July 2019 10:31
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Jeremy Hunt U-turns on ending fox hunting ban

Conservative leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has pledged to bring back fox hunting if he becomes Britain’s next prime minister.

The foreign secretary said the illegal practice was an important part of the countryside’s “heritage”, as he appealed to Tory members still to decide whether to vote for him or rival Boris Johnson.

A ban on fox hunting and other wild mammals was implemented in England and Wales in 2004 with legislation introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government.

“I would vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting,” Mr Hunt told the Telegraph. “I would as soon as there was a majority in parliament that would be likely to repeal the fox hunting ban, then I would support a vote in parliament.”

“It is part of the countryside,” he added. “And we have to recognise that in terms of the balance of the countryside. You know, it’s part of our heritage.”

Speaking on the campaign trail on Wednesday, Mr Hunt said there wasn’t currently enough votes in the Commons to repeal the ban, admitting the issue would have to wait until after the next general election.

“I don’t hunt myself, it’s not particularly my thing,” he explained, but said he was “happy for people to do it”.

Mr Hunt’s push to change the law was condemned by Labour, which said fox hunting was a “barbaric practice”.

Fox hunting has been banned since 2004

Ian Lavery, Labour Party chairman, said: “This Tory leadership race is going from bad to worse. We’ve had Johnson’s tax cuts for the wealthy, a race to the bottom on no-deal Brexit, and now a pledge to bring back this barbaric practice that Labour had proudly banned.”

His comments come two days before 160,000 Tory party members begin to receive their ballots in the leadership contest.

Mr Hunt has registered no new donations in the last two weeks, figures released on Wednesday showed. Mr Johnson, by comparison, has registered £235,000 pounds in donations.

The foreign secretary protested over Mr Johnson’s use of party data – after receiving a campaign email to his personal address from his leadership rival.

The message urged Mr Hunt to “join my campaign”, because he had previously backed Mr Johnson by “signing up to receive campaign updates or by volunteering to help”.

“Well this is awkward... definitely didn’t sign up to this mailing list,” Mr Hunt tweeted, posting the text of the email in full.

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