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100 MPs and Peers call on Government to ban fur sales in the UK

Lauretta Roberts
31 August 2021

More than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers have written to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon George Eustice MP to call for a ban on the import and sale of animal fur in Britain.

The Humane Society International/UK (HSI UK), which leads the Fur Free Britain campaign, co-ordinated the letter and is also calling on Defra to publish its analysis of the 30,000 responses submitted to its Call For Evidence on the fur trade earlier this year.

Fur farming was banned in Britain in 2000 with the last remaining fur farm closing in 2003 (in addition the sale of certain furs such as domestic dog and cat and seal is banned), but since that date, HSI UK claims, some £800 million worth of fur has been imported from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where animals after often held in battery cages.

The MPs are seeking to highlight the double-standard of Britain banning fur farms but allowing the sale of goods from animals that have been reared in fur farms in other countries. Previously the UK Government has pushed back on a ban by saying that it would not be possible while we were a member of the EU.

In the letter, the MPs point out that argument is no longer valid: "The Government has previously said that a sales ban would be incompatible with our membership of the European Union and, as such, no action could be taken at that time.

"The UK has now left the EU, and the Government has an opportunity - following the call for evidence on the fur trade held earlier this year - to act as a global leader in moral standards and extend existing fur trade bans (for cat, dog and seal fur) to all animals, thus eliminating illogical protections for some species above others.

With the vast majority of UK high street stores now fur-free, a ban would have limited impact on businesses, and a proper and reasonable phase-out period would ensure that the few businesses still centred on fur could transition to alternative materials.”

Many leading stores and designers have already dropped fur in recent years or have committed to do so in the near future including big names such as Gucci, Versace, Chanel, Burberry, Tom Ford, Canada Goose, Diane von Furstenberg and Michael Kors to name a few.

Last autumn, Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith stated that Government was warm to the idea of a ban on fur sales and would address the matter once the exit from EU was complete. “Fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years and at the end of the [Brexit] transition period we will be able to properly consider steps to raise our standards still further. That is something the Government is very keen to do," he said at the time.

In today's letter Conservative MP Christian Wakeford said: The UK has entered a new chapter in its trading relationship with the rest of the world: banning fur sales will send a strong message that we intend to use this new beginning to set ourselves apart as world leaders in animal welfare.

"We were trailblazers in banning fur farming almost 20 years ago, and now Brexit has given us the opportunity to set a global example on animal welfare again. There has never been a better time to end our association with this cruel, outdated and unnecessary practice and I hope the strength of cross-party feeling on this issue encourages the Government to introduce a ban at the earliest opportunity."

Labour MP Maria Eagle added that the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a number of fur farms being closed during outbreaks of the virus among the animals, added further weight to the argument in favour of a ban.

"The coronavirus pandemic should force governments the world over to reconsider the way we farm, keep, and interact with animals. Exploiting fur-bearing wild species in unsanitary, overcrowded and inhumane factory farms is not only cruel, but also imposes potentially devastating public health risks.

"Our cross-party letter to the Environment Secretary follows the recent call by over 60 vets and virologists, encouraging governments globally to end fur farming to prevent further disease outbreaks. Following the recent call for evidence on the fur trade in the UK, Ministers must act now to ban fur sales in this country," Eagle said.

Opinion polls show strong support for a fur sale ban among UK consumers. A Yonder opinion poll published in May 2021 found that 72% of the British public support a ban on the import and sale of all animal fur, replicating exactly the majority support demonstrated by a YouGov opinion poll a year earlier. HSI UK has also garnered 1 million signatures in support of its #FurFreeBritain campaign.

HSI UK executive director Claire Bass said: “Furs from around two million tormented animals are imported into the UK each year and there is huge public and political support for Britain to stop this trade in cruelty. This letter shows clear cross-party political appetite for the Government to bring forward legislation to ban fur imports and sales.

"We are also urging the Government to publish its analysis of the 30,000 responses received from members of the public and industry to its recent Call for Evidence. If opinion polls are anything to go by, we believe that the vast majority of those responses will be supportive of a ban and will want to see Britain show global leadership towards an end to this cruel, outmoded and unnecessary industry. For as long as fur is traded in Britain, we remain shamefully complicit in the suffering and death of millions of fur bearing animals for frivolous fashion.”

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