The vote on changes that would relax the ban on fox hunting has been delayed, after the SNP announced its intentions to vote against the proposals.
The proposed changes would relax the legislation surrounding hunting with dogs in England and Wales. However, ahead of the House of Commons considering the legislation on Wednesday, Angus Robertson, the leader of the SNP parliamentary party, made clear the group’s intention to oppose Conservative plans. The SNP opposition vote would make it unlikely that the legislative changes would be passed, and the government has responded by delaying the vote.
Insisting that the SNP opposes fox hunting, Mr Robertson also made clear that the decision is the SNP’s way of “reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is”, after the Conservative government refused to agree to amendments to the Scotland Bill.
Previously, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had cited fox hunting as the kind of English issue that her party would not vote on, but she has now changed her mind, saying that Scotland “should be tightening up” its own hunting laws, and that “since the election, David Cameron’s government has shown very little respect to the mandate that Scottish MPs have.”
Conservative MP Liam Fox described the SNP’s u-turn as “a particularly toxic mixture of opportunism and hypocrisy.”
Conservative plans to restrict Scottish MPs from voting on English and Welsh matters could now be pushed through, effectively removing the SNP’s say on the changes to hunting laws in England and Wales, and tipping the scales back in favour of a Conservative majority.
The Countryside Alliance has welcomed the decision to delay the vote, saying that “no good would come from pressing on.”