The government may backtrack on its vow to prohibit imports of fur and foie gras through new animal welfare laws, it has emerged.
The revelations come amid reports of opposition within the Cabinet, with several ministers allegedly being against the ban.
According to The Independent, one of the Tories opposing the plans is Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has recently been promoted to Cabinet as Brexit Opportunities Minister.
‘People should be able to choose’, Mogg insists
He reportedly thinks that people should be able to choose whether to buy goods made in a cruel manner or not.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis are said to have argued that denying the UK the ability to import fur could leave Guardsmen soldiers without bear fur hats.
The opposition comes despite environment minister Zac Goldsmith insisting last year that the government would push law through to ban the controversial practices “the earliest possible”.
Both fur farming and the production of foie gras are banned in the UK, but can be imported from abroad – with foie gras involved force-feeding ducks and geese to fatten their liver.
The loophole triggered hopes that the government’s new Animals Abroad Bill would close it, by placing restrictions on aspects such as trophy hunting.
But, whilst ministers announced the Bill will tackle trophy hunting, foie gras and fur imports are likely to be dropped, according to the BBC.
A government spokesperson denied suggestions that the decision is final, and insisted the Cabinet is “united in its commitment to upholding its world-leading standards in animal welfare”.
A British Fur Trade Association spokesperson said: “We are pleased that sensible members of the government have listened to our concerns and have decided not to pursue such an unworkable and damaging step despite the shrill unevidenced calls of animal rights activists.”
Animal testing post-Brexit
Last August, campaigners warned the government opened the floodgates for increased animal testing for cosmetic products ingredients for the first time in more than two decades.
Cruelty Free International said the process was banned in the UK since 1998 and warned the UK would be “blowing a hole” in its leadership on animal testing, according to The Guardian.
The government said it was aligning with a European Chemicals Agency decision, but the decision went against EU regulations on animal testing for cosmetics.
A government spokesperson told the newspaper that there had not been any changes in UK legislation for animal testing of finished cosmetic products.
“Under UK regulations to protect the environment and the safety of workers, animal testing can be permitted, where required by UK regulators, on single or multiuse ingredients. However, such testing can only be conducted where there are no non-animal alternatives,” the spokesperson added.
But CFI’s director of science and regulatory affairs, Dr Katy Taylor, said the government was “relying once again on cruel and unjustifiable tests that date back over half a century.”
And CFI’s director of public affairs Kerry Postlewhite said the government was showing signs that there would not be proper protections against animal testing after Britain’s exit from the EU.