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Euro MPs raising animal welfare concerns in post-Brexit UK

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Keith Taylor MEP at Emmanuel College . Picture: Keith Heppell
Keith Taylor MEP at Emmanuel College . Picture: Keith Heppell

With still no certainty about a final Brexit deal, Green Euro MP Keith Taylor visited Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to raise the party's concerns about animal welfare once the country leaves the European Union.

Animal sentience is the worry. He said it is a keystone of European legislation but no equivalent exists in British law. He doesn’t trust the Prime Minister to prevent animal welfare standards from falling post-Brexit.

“The fears for the animal welfare community would be that we start losing the European legislation concerning animal welfare, all kinds of animals: farm animals, companion animals, animals used in experimentation.

“When Caroline Lucas, MP for the Greens, tried to introduce it as an amendment to the Withdrawal Bill it was voted down, which was a big shock because there is significant support for animals on both sides of the Channel,” he said.

“It’s like that Clint Eastwood film where he’s holding the Magnum .45 at somebody’s head. I don’t feel very lucky about the chances of the British government upholding those European values.

“If you look at animals in particular, there are 44 European laws related to animals and those are by no means part of the package that we’re going to adopt.

“Are you going to trust these people to deliver what they promised. Have we seen £350million going into the NHS every week?

“This affects every single person in the UK, and the younger they are the more it affects them, which is why I’m glad to be talking to students.”

Campaigners say testing may also be duplicated in Britain and the EU, meaning more animal testing.

The Greens say Brexit is a “clear threat” to attempts to move away from animal testing and develop alternative methods. Other campaigners, such as Animal Free Research UK, fear animal testing will be exported to countries with poor welfare records.

Labour are saying a new Animal Welfare Commissioner should be appointed to ensure animal welfare standards are not ‘watered down’ in any post-Brexit trade deals.

Labour MEP Alex Mayer said: “Never has the future of animal welfare looked so uncertain under this Conservative government with a chaotic, race-to-the bottom Brexit.

“With new trade deals on the horizon and the UK no longer subject to EU-wide rules on animal welfare, we want to ensure there is a comprehensive legislative agenda in place.

“We have made impressive advances on animal rights over the years. Britain is a nation of animal lovers so we must speak up on animals’ behalf so no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and we continue to drive up standards in line with the most recent scientific understanding.”

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