4th July 2019
The Tory leadership hopeful came unstuck in a car crash interview with the BBC after he said he wants to bring back the vile bloodsport.
Squirming Jeremy Hunt has refused FOUR times to say if he believes fox hunting is “cruel”.
The Tory leadership hopeful was skewered on the radio today after admitting he’d want to bring back the bloodsport as PM.
Mr Hunt was forced to insist “the law is not going to change” on fox hunting and “it wouldn’t be my priority as Prime Minister”.
But in a car crash interview, he came unstuck when repeatedly asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether the practice is “cruel”.
Interviewer Mishal Husain told him the RSPCA said the practice involved “wild animals being chased to the point of exhaustion, set upon by dogs for sport”.
Asked if that was “cruel”, Mr Hunt replied: “My view is a matter of public record. But what matters now are the things I want to change as Prime Minister.”
Asked a second time if it was cruel, Mr Hunt said: “My view is a matter of public record.”
Asked a third time, he said: “I’m here to talk about the things I want to change as Prime Minister. That is not something that’s going to change.
“Rural broadband is something that urgently needs to be speeded up. Business rates…”
Exasperated Ms Husain tried a fourth time, saying: “You’re swerving away from the subject!
“I asked you if you think that fox hunting is cruel. And for some reason you’re not willing to say if it is or it isn’t.”
He replied: “I have never hunted and it’s not my thing but the way I voted is a matter of public record.”
Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman said: “It is incredible and shocking that Jeremy Hunt, who aspires to be the next Prime Minister, can not bring himself to even acknowledge the barbaric cruelty of fox hunting.
“Once again it shows this Tory government’s lack of understanding and sincerity on issues of animal welfare.”
It comes after the Foreign Secretary voiced his support for the sport which has been banned in England in Wales for nearly 15 years.
He said it was part of the countryside’s “heritage”, he would give MPs a free vote on bringing it back, and he’d personally vote in favour of scrapping the ban.
Mr Hunt’s surprise intervention will trigger dismay among Tory modernisers, who hoped he was the candidate to quell Boris Johnson’s lurch to the right.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Labour proudly banned this barbaric practice. This Tory leadership race is going from bad to worse.”
Mr Hunt stressed he would only seek to bring a free vote to the Commons – where MPs vote according to their consciences – if there was a majority in Westminster for such a view.
He told Today: “There isn’t a majority in the House of Commons and I don’t see there ever being one.”
But he did back putting a commitment to a free vote in the Tory manifesto.
Labour MP Angela Rayner said his pledge was “absolutely disgusting” and a naked bid to win 160,000 Tory members’ votes.
She said: “The vast majority of the public want this cruel & vile practice consigned to the dustbin of history.
” Jeremy Hunt thinks it might appeal to a few Tory tally ho types in the shires. We will not go back to this repulsive pastime!”
Mr Hunt’s vocal display of support for hounds ripping apart foxes risks derailing his No10 bid.
Theresa May’s confession to the Mirror during the snap 2017 general election that she had always backed the rural past-time was widely blamed for fuelling her ballot box humiliation.
Polls consistently show around three-quarters or more of Britons are against bringing back the bloodsport.
Labour Party Chairman Ian Lavery added: “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.”
Animal Equality executive director Toni Vernelli said: “Jeremy Hunt has a very short memory – It was this same pledge that lost Theresa May the youth vote at the last election.
“Hunting with dogs is a cruel relic of the past.
“Britain has long moved on from finding animal abuse entertaining, and Jeremy Hunt is living in a cave if he hasn’t noticed this.”