Conservatives in Britain are blaming a “handful of very wealthy peers” who make up the shooting and hunting lobby over the news that legislation banning the import of hunting trophies is to be scrapped.
The animals abroad bill included measures that prohibited advertisements for holidays that include elephant rides. It was to be a landmark bill that signaled to the world that post-Brexit Britain was a leader in animal rights and preventing cruelty to animals abroad. It included a commitment by the British government to Interdiction of import of endangered animal parts.
The bill was scrapped over the weekend. Sources within the government confirmed that it had been dropped and that manifesto promises, including the ban on trophy hunting imports, would not be fulfilled in this parliament. Officially, the government blames a lack of time in parliament to implement the bill, which was promised in the 2019 Conservative manifesto.
Ministers have blamed lobbying from the traditional wing of the party for No 10’s change of heart over the bill. A senior government source said: “A handful of crusties have managed to seize control. A handful of very wealthy peers are pressing for all the animal welfare measures to be dropped because they fear eventually it might mean their weekends could be affected.”
According to this source, some Conservative party members believe that trophy-hunting animal rights activists would argue that it is hypocritical for legislation to be based on actions abroad that harm nature, while shooting weekends are still permitted in the UK.
Conservative MPs have asked Boris Johnson for his support and to make the bill as effective as possible. Sir Roger Gale, a member of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, which counts the prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, as a patron, spoke out on Monday.
He said: “There is absolutely no place for trophy hunting in the civilized modern world. The photo tourism industry, which allows for the capture of wild animals living in their natural habitats, offers a way for people in developing countries to live in a far better environment than any kind of murder. That is why trophy hunting has to be banned, and it has to be banned now.”
Lord Benyon, an environment minister, has said it will be “debated when parliamentary time allows.”
New polling by Survation, commissioned and conducted by the Campaign to Ban Trophy HuntingAccording to a survey, 92 percent of Conservative supporters support a ban on the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals.
“Dropping a bill backed by 92 percent of your party’s supporters is baffling, to say the least.”
Eduardo Goncalves, of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said: “Dropping a bill backed by 92 percent of your party’s supporters is baffling, to say the least. Aside from it being a broken manifesto commitment, it doesn’t look good when the prime minister and the Queen tell MPs the ban is going ahead, only to mysteriously axe it for no good reason.
“One can only hope this is some terrible misunderstanding and that Boris Johnson will move quickly to clarify matters. If, as is expected, there is a new Queen’s speech in May, then it is imperative that the trophy ban is included within it. Many Tory voters are losing patience. Animal welfare issues can be strong drivers of voting intention. If the Conservatives go back on this commitment, they can expect it to come back to haunt them.”
The delay of the bill was welcomed by those in the shooting lobby. Christopher Graffius is the executive director of communications and public relations at the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, said: “There is much good in the animals abroad bill that everyone who cares for animals and the countryside will support, but there are areas of the bill such as banning the importation of trophies from sustainable and regulated hunting which are not evidence based and will damage conservation.
“With limited parliamentary time produced by a heavy legislative agenda and war in Ukraine, the withdrawal of the bill allows for further consideration and improvement before its resubmitted to parliament.”