Theresa May's plan to bring back fox hunting ‘stands no chance’ after election humiliation, says ex-Tory chairman

Theresa May’s plan to bring back fox hunting ‘stands absolutely no chance’ after her general election humiliation, a former chairman of the Conservative Party has said.

In the run-up to the election, buoyed by what where then strong opinion polls in her favour, the prime minister pledged to offer MPs a vote on repealing the fox hunting ban.

At one point, she even said: ‘Personally, I have always been in favour of fox hunting.’

She promised a free vote in the House of Commons after the election on repealing the Hunting Act.

Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps criticised the prime minister's fox hunting pledge (Picture: PA)
Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps criticised the prime minister’s fox hunting pledge (Picture: PA)

However, following the disastrous election results in which her party failed to gain a majority, forcing them into a confidence and supply deal with the DUP, the notion is firmly off the table.

Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps said the fox hunting vow from Mrs May had been a ‘silly idea’ and now had no chance of becoming a reality.

MORE: John Major urges Theresa May to pull out of DUP deal over Northern Ireland peace process concerns
MORE: Conservatives and Labour hold ‘secret talks’ to plot soft Brexit

‘It’s absolute insanity to start talking about passing and changing fox hunting laws, what an Earth was that about,’ he told BBC’s Daily Politics.

‘I thought a mistake had been made, perhaps an off-the-cuff comment. Then I read the manifesto and discovered not only were we planning to allow a free vote, but it was going to be a government bill and on government time.

‘This now stands absolutely no chance. It’s a silly idea.’

Meanwhile, former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major has warned Mrs May that her deal with DUP could threaten the Northern Ireland peace process and cost the Tories a ‘bucketload of votes’.

Sir John, who was an influential figure in the peace process, warned that the pact could mean the government will no longer be seen as impartial.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One Programme: ‘People regard the peace process which was very hard earned over very many years by a lot of people, people shouldn’t regard it as a given, it isn’t certain, it is under stress, it is fragile.

Mrs May's comments before the election sparked renewed anti-fox hunting protests (Picture: Rex)
Mrs May’s comments before the election sparked renewed anti-fox hunting protests (Picture: Rex)

‘Although I don’t expect it suddenly to collapse, because there’s a broad consensus that wishes it to continue, I think we have to take care with it and take care that everything we do does not exaggerate the underlying differences that still are there in the Northern Ireland community.’

‘The DUP, entirely understandably, are going to ask for a great deal in for supporting the government, predominantly, I suspect, they will ask for money.

‘If they ask for money, how is that going to be received in Wales, or in Scotland, or amongst the just about managing everywhere across the UK? It is going to create friction amongst them.’