LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that she’s prepared to allow a vote in Parliament on whether to lift Britain’s ban on fox hunting — reigniting an issue that still raises passions more than a decade after the practice was outlawed.
While campaigning for the June 8 election, May said she is in favor of hunting and a vote “would allow Parliament the opportunity to take the decision on this.”
The comments came after the Daily Mirror newspaper published a leaked email by Benjamin Mancroft, master of the Foxhounds Association. He said a Conservative landslide in the election could result in enough votes for the repeal of the ban.
Polls consistently suggest a majority of Britons oppose fox hunting, but many Conservative lawmakers represent rural areas where support is strongest.
Once an iconic British tradition, hunting with dogs was banned in 2004 amid complaints by animal welfare campaigners who argued it caused suffering to wild animals chased and killed by hounds.
However, the ban did not end traditional hunts, in which mounted riders and a pack of hounds race across the countryside. Many hunts now follow a scent trail instead of a fox, or work around loopholes in the law.
May’s predecessor as prime minister, David Cameron, also promised Parliament a vote on hunting — but never held one.
Roger Gale of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting advised May against reopening the thorny issue.
“We have more than enough to occupy parliamentary time with Brexit and all that follows,” he said. “In my view, it’d be folly to waste further time on the issue.”