cows animal welfare farm

Parliamentary gridlock caused by wrangles over Theresa May’s Brexit deal was the main reason given for the lower grade

The UK has seen a regression in its animal welfare record because of Brexit, according to World Animal Protection.

The animal rights NGO’s Animal Protection Index – a global assessment of countries’ stances on animal welfare – showed the UK had dropped from an A to a B grade.

Parliamentary gridlock caused by wrangles over Theresa May’s Brexit deal was the main reason given for the lower grade, with what WAP called “key laws” getting held up.

This delayed legislation included a transfer of EU animal sentience regulations into UK law and a review of legal protections afforded to marine animals, such as squids and crabs.

“The UK government is failing to keep up with the latest science on animal welfare and has been treading water, making promises of new legislation on animal sentience that have not been met,” said WAP’s UK external affairs advisor Sonul Badiani-Hamment.

“The UK is a nation of animal lovers and the government must reflect this in their work and continue to improve animal protections. This is particularly important as the UK leaves the EU, to ensure that hard-won protections are not lost in the rush to agree new trade deals.”

In response, the government said it was proud to “have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world” and insisted it had already made “significant changes” to animal rights legislation.

“We have committed to going even further by supporting tougher sentences for animal abuse, introducing new laws on animal sentience and ending excessively long journeys for live animals going for slaughter or fattening,” said a Defra spokesman.

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The Index, which scores countries on an A-G scale, saw no countries achieve an A grade, with the UK rated highest along with Sweden and Austria.

Its B grade means it has “good animal welfare legislation” with “some areas for improvement”.

The lowest ranked state was Iran, which was given a G for having “little or no animal welfare legislation”.

Meanwhile, the US – with whom the UK is due to begin trade talks with later in March – was awarded a D grade for “below average legislation” and “many areas for improvement”.

The news comes after MPs forming the cross-party Efra Committee made an amendment to the government’s Agriculture Bill, calling for a legal commitment that food products imported as part of any future trade deal meet or exceed British standards relating to production, animal welfare and the environment.

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