NEWS AND OPINION: The law regarding the importation of animal fur into the UK is highly complicated. I know that the European Union banned cat and dog fur in around 2009. But I also know that animals are bred in captivity in the European Union to supply the fur market. And I know that it can be difficult to detect cat and dog fur on clothes when the fur is used as a trimming or an accessory on an item of clothing. The origin of that fur can be difficult to ascertain. Sometimes it comes from China which I understand is the largest cat and dog fur trade marketplace in the world. It is a brutal industry. It is highly objectionable to anybody who has any concerns about animal welfare.
When the UK leave the European Union in December the government will have to introduce new regulations in any event because the EU regulations regarding animal fur will no longer apply to the UK. That hole will have to be plugged, as I understand it. However, in the news today is the proposition that the UK will be banning the import and sale of wild animal fur in its entirety. By this I mean fur as a raw product i.e. pelts and fur on clothing.
This is a big step because the government is considering regulations which would prohibit the sale of clothes containing fur in shops in Britain after the country leaves the European Union single market and customs union.
Of course, the British Fur Trade Association strongly objects to it. They argue that the draft legislation is “irrational, illiberal and misjudged”. I would argue that their opinion is irrational, illiberal and misjudged!
The draft legislation is being driven by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, the Defra minister with responsibility for animal welfare. He is a close friend of Carrie Symonds who as we know is an animal advocate. We also know that Carrie Symonds is the partner of Boris Jonson, Britain’s current Prime Minister. You can see therefore where the motivation for this change comes from.
Of course, I’m delighted with it. It will affect £200 million of imports of fur and fur based products annually. Most of it comes from the European Union. Lord Goldsmith has described the fur trade as “one of the grimmest of human activities”. And Carrie Symonds argues that a person buying fur “really is sick”. I agree with both of them wholeheartedly.
It isn’t just me who agrees with these opinions. Opinion polls indicate that about 80% of Briton’s feel that the fur trade is unacceptable. It is passé to use a French term. It is time the world moved on. When you see a fur item you should visualise an animal being skinned. The blood, the mess, and the agony in China where animals are sometimes skinned alive. It is completely shocking and unacceptable.
As mentioned, part of this legislation is due to the need to bring into UK law existing European Union law about the importation and sales of fur products on exiting the European Union. At that point, the UK will be free of EU law which for me is a good thing but we need to make sure that we retain the best of EU law.