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Theresa May says she supports fox hunting because other ways of killing foxes are 'cruel'

The PM wants to hold a vote on bringing back the animal killings

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 16 May 2017 09:15 BST
Theresa May says she supports fox hunting because other ways of killing foxes are 'cruel'

Theresa May has defended her support for fox hunting, arguing that foxes must be killed and that hunting them with dogs on horseback is the most humane way of doing so.

The Prime Minister said she had “always supported fox hunting” and that she would give Parliament a vote on bringing back the animal killings.

“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 said.

Fox hunting with hounds was outlawed by Tony Blair's Labour government in 2004 but successive Conservative manifestos have pledged to bring the animal killings back.

A plot by pro-hunt Tories to bring back the spot was revealed in a leaked email this 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.

A large Tory majority in the House of Commons would likely give pro-hunt Conservatives insulation from any rebellion by anti-hunt Conservatives to stop the repeal of the ban. David Cameron had planned to hold a vote on repealing the ban but never did so after the threat of rebellion reared its head.

Ms May said she did not consider the issue “important” and that MPs would be able to decide what happened to the animals if she became PM.

“This is a subject on which you are either for it or against it. I have always supported fox hunting, but clearly I'm not saying I'm going to bring it back,” she told a Facebook Live session hosted by ITV News.

“What I'm saying is we will have a free vote in Parliament so MPs will be able to make up their own mind on this issue.

“This isn't the most important issue facing people at this election. I think the most important issue is about who's going to provide the leadership for the future to take us through Brexit and beyond."

A poll conducted in the run-up to Boxing Day 2016 found that opposition to fox hunting has hit an all-time high. A full 84 per cent of the public now believe fox hunting should not be made legal again, according to a survey by Ipsos MORI.

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