Live foxhunting may return to Great Britain if British Prime Minister Theresa May has her way. In a speech in Leeds on May 9, she responded to a question by a reporter for the Daily Mirror on the topic:
“This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against,” she said. “As it happens, personally I’ve always been in favor of foxhunting, and we maintain our commitment—we’ve had a commitment previously as a conservative party—to allow a free vote. It would allow Parliament the opportunity to take a decision on this.”
Parliament, led by Tony Blair’s Labour party, banned live hunting in Great Britain in 2004. The Hunting Act came into effect in 2005, and there’s been an ongoing war between animal welfare groups, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the League Against Cruel Sports, and the hunts and their supporters, like the Countryside Alliance.
Foxhunting has continued via drag hunt, although multiple individuals have been prosecuted for live hunting. In 2012 the RSPCA brought the Heythrop Hunt Limited to court, the first time a hunt was prosecuted as a corporate body. Master Richard Sumner, huntsman Julian Barnfield and the Heythrop Hunt pled guilty to intentionally hunting a fox, but they also claimed that the case was politically motivated, as the hunt was associated with then-Prime Minister David Cameron.
May has called for a general election in the United Kingdom, which is set for June 8, and she’s hoping her Conservative party will win a landslide victory, which would open the way for a vote on the Hunting Act.