Boris Johnson repeatedly voted against a ban on fox hunting in the early 2000s, when he was MP for Henley. Indeed whilst acting as London Mayor Johnson even went so far as to say that hunting should be introduced in the capital and that “This will cause massive unpopularity but I don’t care”. So why then are we suggesting that the election of Boris Johnson as our new PM could inadvertently help end fox hunting for good?
We say this because of the appointment of Theresa Villiers as the new DEFRA Secretary. Whilst many have criticised her stance on fracking amongst other things, there is no doubt that Villiers is an animal lover.
In 2017 Villiers wrote an entire piece dedicated to her view of the 2004 Hunting Act titled “Why I’m Backing the Ban” in which she describes how “After many years of being opposed to the fox hunting ban, I have changed my view and decided to support it”. This is indeed a welcome view, one which recent polling continues to suggest is supported by at least 85% of the British electorate.
So where do we go from here with the campaign to strengthen the ban on fox hunting? Well despite Boris Johnson himself having once stated he wouldn’t mind seeing fox hunting on the streets of London there is little doubt that Villiers holds an altogether different view. As a matter of fact she has gone as far as to say that “I would not object to a review to see if it could be made to work better”.
The answer then is simple. Theresa Villiers and her anti-hunting views presents quite possibly our strongest chance yet to put pressure on the 2004 Hunting Act to be strengthened – something which Labour have committed to introducing if they were to form a Government. Clearly this is an issue which is not about to go away anytime soon and one which both parties are increasingly beginning to realise would be a popular move with the public. Indeed Theresa May’s vocalisation of her support for fox hunting has since been linked to the party’s eventual struggles in the 2017 General Election, something which the party will be eager to avoid.