Hunt backs parliamentary vote on legalising fox hunting

Conservative leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt would move to see fox hunting legalised, saying a parliamentary vote would be in the next Tory manifesto.

The Foreign Secretary said fox hunting was "part of the countryside" and that he was "happy for people to do it" despite it "not particularly (being) my thing".

However, Mr Hunt's push to change the law was condemned by the Labour party, which said fox hunting was a "barbaric practice".

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hunt said he would support a vote in Parliament when there was a majority in the Commons likely to back the move.

He said: "I don't hunt myself. It's not particularly my thing.

"Look, I think we have to recognise it's part of the countryside.

"And I think we have to recognise that in terms of the balance of the countryside it's part of our heritage.

"So personally I'm happy for people to do it."

Laws on fox hunting were changed in 2005
Laws on fox hunting were changed in 2005 (Danny Lawson/PA)

The move comes as ballot papers for the Conservative leadership contest between Mr Hunt and Boris Johnson begin to be sent to the party membership.

Fox hunting was banned in England and Wales following the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004 – which came into force a year later.

The legislation permits drag hunting where hounds are trained to follow an artificial scent.

Ian Lavery, Labour Party chairman, said: "This Tory leadership race is going from bad to worse.

"We've had Johnson's tax cuts for the wealthy, a race to the bottom on no-deal Brexit, and now a pledge to bring back this barbaric practice that Labour had proudly banned."

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