In Brief

UK considers ban on live animal exports post-Brexit

Michael Gove calls for evidence in move aimed at making UK ‘a world leader in animal welfare’

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has called for evidence for a potential ban on the export of live animals following Brexit.

Gove has launched a six-week consultation on the proposal, which is intended to “help the UK become a world leader in animal welfare”, says the BBC. Industry experts and campaigners are being asked to submit information and proposals.

“All animals deserve to get the respect and care they deserve at every stage of their lives,” Gove said. “With all options being considered, I am keen to hear from industry, the devolved authorities and charities on all possible options and evidence on this vital issue.”

Data from HM Revenue and Customs shows that UK exports of live cattle, sheep and pigs have risen in value in recent years. Up to 20,000 live sheep were exported to Europe in 2017, according to estimates from the National Farmers’ Union.

Dr Marc Cooper, head of the RSPCA’s farm animals department, said the charity had been calling for a live export ban for decades. Campaigners “would like to see live exports from the UK banned and a maximum journey time of eight hours introduced”, he said, adding: “It’s unacceptable and completely unnecessary that live animal are exported and transported over long distances for slaughter or further fattening.”

However, while the proposals were met with support by a number of animal rights groups, Labour said they did not go far enough.

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: “This weak announcement only amounts to a call for evidence and is just the latest in a string of desperate attempts by the Tories to portray themselves as animal-friendly.”

The Independent agrees, claiming the move is part of a bid “to secure the environmental agenda for the Conservatives, following high-profile announcements to tighten animal welfare regulation and tackle plastic pollution”.

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