Brexit BLOCKERS: How animal right activists are causing huge trade deal problems

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The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has hit the headlines for new measures which include a ban on boiling crabs and lobsters alive but are more broadly aimed to prevent cruel deaths for creatures which can think and have feelings.

The controversial legislation has been linked to Boris Johnson’s new wife Carrie who is a prominent animal rights campaigner and works for the Aspinel Foundation, a conservation charity.

One of the main proposals in the legislation would be a new committee with unelected members which would have the power to scrutinise new laws and trade deals to remove measures which would breach animal rights.

In recent evidence, Dr Penny Hawkins, head of the Animals in Science Department, Advocacy and Policy Directorate for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said that if the law had already been in place the committee could have interfered with the recent trade deal with Australia.

When asked whether the Australian deal would have been blocked, she told MPs: “Yes, exactly. That is why it is so important to scrutinise this law, to make sure it can make a difference for animals. 

“As we all know, article 13 of the [EU’s] Treaty of Lisbon itself had get-out clauses that allowed cruelty to animals to be performed if there was a cultural reason, for example. 

“It is absolutely critical to make sure that this Bill finally includes enough detail to safeguard against these kinds of animal cruelties being legitimised through trade deals.”

Conservative MPs have admitted that they have worries about this aspect of the Bill which is now due to be scrutinised in the House of Lords.

Bury South Conservative MP Christian Wakeford said: “Animal sentience is important but giving non-elected groups a veto when MPs don’t even get that just feels wrong.

“We should be using these trade deals to help level up animal rights, not just cancel things because we don’t like current practices.”

A former minister, who did not want to be named because of concerns over reprisals from animal rights activists, said: “It’s ridiculous legislation and could harm Britain’s trade and global reach.

“The problem is that organisations like the RSPCA have been taken over by radical activists with extreme agendas and we appear to be dancing to their tune.”

Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance said: “As drafted, this bill will cause all sorts of headaches for the government and is open to manipulation. We have heard how some want the proposed animal sentience committee to be able to stifle and prevent trade deals and from others that members of PETA should sit on it. There is still time for Ministers to clarify the powers and remit of this committee, so as to avoid an act of self-harm.”

The government has vowed that it will have the strongest animal rights legislation in the world.

However, deals which could be affected include a lucrative one with the USA where agriculture will be a major part of the negotiations.

Already, there is a row over chlorine being used in America to clean chickens but the sentient bill could also impact other areas including lobster from Maine as well as beef.

International trade secretary Liz Truss has been attempting to break down barriers with the USA over agri products and recently got a deal allowing British beef to be sold in America for the first time in 20 years.

She is currently working on ending an embargo on lamb but concerns have been raised by some ministers that British restrictions could have an impact on her talks.

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