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Fur farming has been banned in Britain for nearly 20 years but the UK has allowed almost £800 million worth of animal fur to be imported from France, Italy, Poland, China and other countries. Claire Bass, executive director for Humane Society International UK, told Express.co.uk how Brexit can help Britain to deliver its ambition.
Ms Bass explained how the single market has been a barrier to the ban of fur trade in the UK.
She said: “The single market would have probably been the major barrier to a fur sales ban.
“I don’t think it would have been impossible for the UK to have unilaterally ban fur sales as a member of the EU and a member of the single market.
“But I think it definitely would have been challenged particularly by those European nations that have produced fur like Denmark, Sweden and Finland.”
She also highlighted how under the free movement of goods rules in the European Union, which removes trade barriers between member states, the UK would have had a “tough ride” to put up a barrier on fur trade.
She added: “If we move to WTO rules then there might still be a challenge by countries that produce fur.
“But we are quietly confident that that would be rejected because we can prove that the WTO exemption of public morality as a reason to ban trade would be applicable here.”
In his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “Let’s promote the welfare of animals that has always been so close to the hearts of the British people.”
The UK became the first country in the EU to ban fur farming in 2003 and now the Department for Environment is considering also banning fur sales once the UK leaves the EU at the end of year.
The move to push the ban is being overseen by Zac Goldsmith, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Mr Goldsmith met with the anti-fur organisation Humane Society International (HSI) earlier this year to discuss the issues around fur trade in the UK.
Ms Bass said: “The Government has to make a judgement call to think as a society our laws to protect animals should reflect where we grow our red lines with what’s acceptable to do to animals and what isn’t acceptable.”
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She added: “Now we’ve had decades long public opinion that show that we don’t have the stomach to support the fur trade anymore and I’m sure the political will won’t be hard to deliver on that.”
A YouGov poll released earlier this year and commissioned by HSI revealed that 72 percent of the British public support a ban on the import and sale of animal fur in the UK.
This showed an increase from the 69 percent who said they would support a UK ban on fur trade two years ago.
In 2018, nearly £75 million of Britain’s animal fur was imported from countries including Finland, Poland, China and the US.
It is estimated that more than a million animals, including minks, foxes and racoon dogs, would have suffered and died to produce this amount of imported fur, according to HSI.
Ms Bass said the opinion polls, including the one produced earlier this year, do not surprise her.
She said: “They consistently show that British people don’t think that it’s morally acceptable to keep animals in tiny cages and annually electrocute them, gas them and skin them for their fur all for a product that is entirely for vanity.
“And it is unnecessary and can be replaced by synthetic alternatives.”
This year’s YouGov poll also revealed that 93 percent of people in the UK reject wearing animal fur and Britons often associate fashion brands who sell animal fur as “unethical”, “outdated”, “cruel” and “out of touch”.
Ms Bass said: “I think that tells you the temperature of public opinion on this issue and it’s really a kind of one way trip for the fur trade now.”
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