Jeremy Hunt Wants To Bring Back Fox Hunting If He Becomes Prime Minister
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted he wants to bring back fox hunting - a practice which has been banned in England and Wales following the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004 - if he's elected Prime Minister in his latest move to appeal to Conservative grassroots.
Voicing his support for the cruel sport during the Telegraph's Brexit podcast, the Tory leadership contender revealed that even though he doesn't hunt himself, he has always been against the ban claiming fox hunting is "part of our heritage".
"As soon as there was a majority of parliament that would be likely to repeal the foxhunting ban, then I would support a vote in parliament," he said. "I would vote to repeal the ban on foxhunting."
"I don't hunt myself. It's not particularly my thing... [but] I think we have to recognise that, in terms of balance of the countryside, it's part of our heritage. So personally I'm happy for people to do it," he added.
Risking the wrath of most of the House of Commons' MPs who oppose the cruel sport, sources have stressed that he would only seek to bring a free vote to the Commons - where MPs vote according to their consciences - if there was a majority in Westminster for such a view.
However if Twitter is anything to go by, people aren't best pleased with this possibility.
"As Jeremy Hunt pledges to legalise fox-hunting, it's clear now that both candidates are simple trying to out-Tory each other. The worst part is that the vast majority of us are powerless spectators to this race to the bottom. Talk about scraping the barrel..." tweeted Labour party politician David Lammy.
"What have the NHS & foxes got in common? Jeremy Hunt wants them both destroyed by slow torture & cruel means, to amuse those with a similar unevolved DNA as himself, in Tory land" expressed one supporter of the ban.
"Jeremy Hunt says he wants to bring back fox hunting. He is willing to support the abuse, torture and violent killing of these beautiful creatures to become Prime Minister. Humanity's true moral test consists of its attitude towards those at its mercy, animals. You failed Mr Hunt," added Australian journalist Peter Stefanovic.
Unsurprisingly Jeremy Corbyn waded in on the debate too, tweeting: "Labour proudly banned this barbaric practice. This Tory leadership race is going from bad to worse."
Appearing to backtrack following the backlash, Mr Hunt was forced to insist that "the law is not going to change" on fox hunting, and it "wouldn't be my priority as Prime Minister...there isn't a majority in the House of Commons and I don't see there ever being one".
He did however refuse to give a straight answer four times when asked by BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether he thinks the practice is cruel.
A 2017 poll commissioned by League Against Cruel Sports and carried out by Ipos Mori showed opposition to fox hunting is still going strong, finding that 85 per cent of people were in support of maintaining the ban.
It also found that 90 per cent were opposed to hare hunting and coursing.
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