“If the Government were to backtrack, it would be betraying not only the animals, who desperately need a caring nation to defend them, but also the public, which has made its opposition to these items clear.”
The UK government is considering a U-turn on the Animal Abroad Bill and is set to drop its plans of introducing bans on importing fur and foie gras.
It comes following opposition from several cabinet ministers, including the Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued that the legislation will have little impact on animal welfare.
Even Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, and defence secretary, Ben Wallace, have reportedly shared their concerns about the ban.
Animals Abroad Bill
Foie gras production – where ducks and geese are ‘force-fed several times a day until their livers become diseased and swell to around 10 times their natural size’ – is already banned in the UK.
Fur farming has also been prohibited in the UK since 2000, but animal rights campaigners have long been pushing for an import ban on fur farmed abroad.
The Animals Abroad Bill is one of three parts of legislation, which the government drafted in a bid to improve animal welfare.
It includes a crackdown on hunting animals for trophies and holidays that lead to animal neglect.
But a debate over how parts of the legislation would be enforced led to the bill being delayed.
Over the past couple of weeks, ministers have confirmed that they plan to ban importing hunting trophies from under-threat species such as elephants, lions and rhinoceroses.
Last year, the environment minister, Zac Goldsmith, said that the government would enforce the ban on imports at “the earliest possible slot”.
Speculation on the bill has created a stir in animal welfare camps with campaigners stressing that bans for both fur and foie gras have widespread support and ‘any backward step is very concerning’.
PETA director Elisa Allen said: “Every kind and decent person agrees that there is no place in modern Britain for fur or foie gras, both of which are products of appalling cruelty.
“They are unnecessary and so disgustingly abusive that they are illegal to produce in the UK.
“The Government has long promised to close our borders to such atrocities by implementing an import ban on both – legislation which is welcomed by everyone in this country except the inherently selfish.
“If the Government were to backtrack, it would be betraying not only the animals, who desperately need a caring nation to defend them, but also the public, which has made its opposition to these items clear, simply to pander to the interests of a vile, vocal Conservative cabal callous enough to allow animals to be exploited in these – and other – industries.”
Grassroots Tory campaigner Lorraine Platt, who is considered the “unofficial whip” on animal welfare policies, is marshalling powerful MPs to lobby the prime minister to think again.
According to Platt, who is also the founder of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation: “We can’t let Boris be swayed off course by a minority of dissenters. We’ve known for some time there’s been a small minority of MPs who are against any ban on foie gras and fur imports.
“We will be taking some action on this. We will be encouraging this measure to go forwards.”
Minister Rees-Mogg has also opposed the bans because he believes people should have the choice to buy products produced in cruel ways if they wish.
Among the Tories, in favour of scrapping the policies, is Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee. He has been vocal about his fondness for foie gras in the past and has recorded to have said: “I don’t much like the idea of having to go abroad to eat my favourite foods. And will you be allowed to smuggle foie gras on the Eurostar? For personal use?”
British Fur Trade Association member Frank Zilberkweit also believes it would be difficult to enforce a ban. He added that the industry was transparent and sustainable.
“The UK public will decide for themselves whether they wish to purchase fur. If the public agree that fur is not a suitable product to wear, they won’t buy it,” Zilberkweit said.
“The fur trade is always happy to liaise with the government about ways to improve standards in the industry, and to explain what we are doing.”
The government is yet to make a final decision but said it is “united in its commitment to upholding its world-leading standards in animal welfare”.
“Our action plan for animal welfare sets out the government’s vision to introduce a range of world-leading reforms to improve the welfare and conservation of animals at home and abroad,” a government representative said.
Animal welfare organisations have started a petition to urge the UK government to implement a UK fur and foie gras import and sales ban!
The petition has been backed by vegan TV presenter and wildlife expert Chris Packham, who called the decision to abandon proposed bans on the import and sale of cruel fur and foie gras ‘appalling’.
You can sign the petition here.
Share this story: UK government set to ditch plans to ban foie gras and fur imports.
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