Members of Parliament (MPs) have voted to reject a clause stating that animals feel pain. The clause was submitted by Green MP Caroline Lucas. It was rejected by 313 and voted in favour by 295.
The clause that recognises animal sentience will not be included in the EU Withdrawal Bill, meaning after March 2019, it won’t apply in the UK. Around 80 percent of animal welfare law is covered by EU law. This suggests that animals in post-Brexit Britain will not have the same protection as they do now.
Animal rights activists and members of the public have spoken out against the vote. Head of the RSPCA, David Bowles, stated that it was a ‘shocking’ decision. The Government has argued that animal sentience is covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. However, only domestic pets are included in the 2006 Act and it does not address animals feeling pain or emotion.
Since the vote, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has released a statement promising that the government will do more for animal welfare. He said that “This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.”