Michael Gove has released a statement announcing he will make “any necessary changes” to UK law to mean animals are recognised as sentient.
The statement comes after Parliament voted on the transfer of an EU protocol that determined whether animals are seen to be sentient or not in the UK.
In his statement, Michael Gove said: “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.
“The [EU withdrawal Bill, voted on last week] is not the right place to address this, however we are considering the right legislative vehicle.”
He added: “It has been suggested that the vote last week on [the EU Withdrawal Bill] somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals – that is wrong.
“Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain.”
Gove also hinted that the UK could pursue tougher animal welfare rules after Brexit, including a ban on live animal exports and crackdown on puppy smuggling.
Amazing to see so many animal lovers taking action in support of my animal sentience amendment. 🐥🐓🦆🐎🐖
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) November 23, 2017
However, Green MP Caroline Lucas branded Gove’s statement as “silly” in a Tweet.
“If the EU withdrawal bill isn’t the right place to transfer EU law into UK law, then what is?” she said.
Lucas added: “The government’s refusal to accept this amendment is simply absurd – and their continued insistence that sentience is covered in animal legislation is wrong. Britain has been forward thinking animal welfare over the years, which is why ditching this provision would be such a backwards step.”
“The UK government led on introducing this EU protocol in the first place, and it’s only an obsession with refusing changes to the EU withdrawal bill that’s stopping ministers adopting this amendment now.”