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Wednesday 15th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

SNP vows to join Labour in opposing relaxation of ban

THE Conservative government scrapped today’s scheduled vote on relaxing the Hunting Act after the SNP announced that it would oppose the changes, making defeat almost certain.

The SNP, which does not usually vote on matters affecting only England and Wales, aimed to highlight the narrowness of the Tories’ majority and show its opposition to proposals for English votes for English laws (Evel) legislation.

In a Radio 4 interview, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that, following the general election, “Cameron’s government has shown very little respect to the mandate Scottish MPs have.”

She vowed to take any opportunity “to remind the government of how slender their majority is,” when Prime Minister David Cameron appears to be out of touch with majority opinion in England and Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon accused the Tories of attempting to make “Scottish MPs effectively second-class citizens in the House of Commons” with their proposed Evel legislation, warning that the SNP may vote on matters which do not directly affect Scotland in the future.

The Tories reacted angrily to the SNP’s last-minute decision to support Labour in opposition, with Mr Cameron branding them “opportunistic,” while Labour accused the Tories of running scared.

Within hours of the vote being shelved, the Tories released a revised Evel proposal which experts say could go through Parliament before a rescheduled fox-hunting vote is held in the autumn, meaning that the SNP may be unable to vote against the hunting Bill.

Hundreds of animal rights activists gathered outside Parliament to voice their opposition to the changes, with high-profile supporters such as former Queen guitarist Brian May branding the vote postponement a “victory for the people.”

League Against Cruel Sports director Robbie Marsland said: “We were looking forward to winning the vote tomorrow and consigning fox hunting to history.

“But once the government knew they were going to lose because enough MPs from all sides don’t want to reintroduce bloodsports into the 21st century, they decided to stop the vote.”

Evidence gathered by YouGov shows that more than half of people in every region in Britain support the current hunting ban.