The government is planning on pushing ahead with attempts to repeal the ban on fox hunting, sources have said.
Former Conservative leadership contender, Andrea Leadsom, reportedly wants a free vote – in which MPs will not be subject to party whips – before the next election.
“We stand by our manifesto commitment to give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time,” an Environment Department source told The Telegraph.
The Hunting Act 2004 was brought in under Tony Blair’s government. It caused widespread discontent among many rural voters but was welcomed by animal rights campaigners.
Despite a slim majority in Parliament, the government would face an uphill battle to overturn the legislation, which is supported by Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP.
Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Women & Equalities, told the i: “Fox Hunting is cruel and serves no purpose whatsoever other than to create misery for the hunted fox and disruption to the public.
“Hardly anybody wants to have the hunting act repealed except a few Tories who want to go back to the past.
Our beautiful wildlife is under siege: badgers, buzzards and foxes are all under attack from Conservatives who show no care or compassion. We must keep the hunting ban.”