May scraps plans for fox hunting vote

Theresa May has ditched her pledge to give MPs a vote on overturning the ban on fox hunting.

The law, which came into force in 2004 when Labour was in power, outlaws the use of dogs to hunt foxes and other wild mammals in England and Wales.

The Prime Minister included a vow in the Conservative party’s manifesto at the most recent general election to give the Commons the chance to have its say on the issue in a free vote.

But speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mrs May said she had received a “clear message” on the subject and there will now not be a vote in this parliament, scheduled to last until 2022.

“As Prime Minister, my job isn’t just about what I think about something, it’s actually about looking at what the view of the country is.

“I think there was a clear message about that and that’s why I say there won’t be a vote on fox hunting during this Parliament.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has made animal welfare issues a top priority since being appointed by the PM in the aftermath of June’s election.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly criticised Mrs May for saying she was in favour of fox hunting during the election, which dealt a near-fatal blow to her authority after the Tories lost their Commons majority.

Anti-hunt Conservatives warned against offering a free vote during the campaign, with North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale insisting politicians would have “more than enough to occupy” their time without considering “yesterday’s argument” of repealing the Hunting Act.