The UK government’s latest climbdown shows it still has vile inhumanity at its very core

Michael Gove
Tracy Keeling

Michael Gove hinted at making a U-turn on the live export of animals during an interview with the BBC. Earlier in the year, Gove launched a consultation into banning live exports, which Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) says is a “cruel and completely unnecessary practice”. But, speaking on BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme, Gove appeared to downgrade the potential ban to a ‘restriction’.

Gove became environment secretary in 2017. He is a ‘caring‘ steward of our environment, apparently. But, despite this rhetoric, Gove and his government continue to act in ways that show they are nothing of the sort.

I’ll ask you again…

Gove appeared on Today to talk up his new Agriculture Bill which will allegedly “deliver a Green Brexit”. During the interview, presenter Justin Webb asked him whether the UK is “going to see an end to live animal exports”. Gove responded:

We’re going to see restrictions on live animal exports, certainly and we’re consulting at the moment

Webb then pressed the environment secretary no less than six times on whether the ban was now off the table, or still under consideration. After repeating his preference for ‘restrictions’ a couple more times, and totally avoiding using the word ban himself, Gove eventually claimed that “all options are on the table”. But that admission didn’t inspire much confidence given his responses to the previous questions.

“Back pedalling”

The possible u-turn didn’t pass by unnoticed. Labour’s shadow environment minister David Drew accused Gove of “back pedalling” on his “promise to ban live exports”. Drew also demanded that the government clarify its position. Meanwhile, CIWF spokesperson James West, said:

The campaign to stop live exports is one that has run for many years, and an issue people feel very strongly about.

It will be a major disappointment to the majority of British citizens if the Government abandon their plans. Mr Gove must hold firm and stop live exports.

Indeed, according to the Mirror, over 1 million people across the EU have signed petitions against exporting live animals for slaughter or fattening. Those opposed to it argue that animals are transported in cramped and inhumane conditions, with limited access to water, for long journeys. They’re also often sent to countries where welfare standards are much lower than in their country of origin.

Don’t care

But the current UK government isn’t shy of disappointing its citizens. Remember, every single Conservative MP present voted to exclude animal sentience – the notion that animals have feelings – from the EU Withdrawal Bill during a parliamentary vote in November 2017, causing an absolute uproar. This is the party of government.

At that time, the Greens’ Caroline Lucas called these MPs “shameful bastards”. That still sounds about right.

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Featured image via YouTube – NFU

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Tracy Keeling