By Nick Eardley & Christina McSorley

BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Making foie gras involves force-feeding ducks to fatten their liver

A group of Conservatives have urged the UK government not to abandon its plans to ban imports of foie gras and fur.

The BBC revealed on Saturday that the measure is likely to be dropped from a new law, amid opposition from some cabinet ministers.

But in a letter to the Times, a group including six Tory MPs said the products were cruel and a ban should go ahead.

The government said no final decisions have been made.

But sources have previously said the measures are likely to be shelved for now, provoking anger among animal welfare campaigners.

British farmers are already banned from producing foie gras, a liver-based luxury French food opposed by campaigners because it is made by force-feeding ducks or geese.

Fur farming has also been illegal in the UK since 2000, but campaigners have long been pushing for an import ban on fur farmed abroad.

A UK import ban was meant to be included in the Animals Abroad Bill, one of three laws the government says will boost animal welfare.

But cabinet ministers opposing a ban include Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, who believes ministers should not restrict consumer choice.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has also raised concerns about banning the bear fur used by some British soldiers in ceremonial uniforms.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis also said a ban might not be allowed in Northern Ireland, which continues to follow product rules from the EU – where foie gras is traded freely – under the UK’s Brexit deal.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The Grenadier Guards wear hats made from the fur of Canadian black bears

In their Times letter, the Conservatives argue fur and foie gras production involved “inhumane practices” that are “rightly banned in the UK”.

They wrote that products derived from “such cruel industries” should also not be allowed – and said polling showed the public support an import ban.

“It is right to limit the choice of a tiny minority of consumers when failing to do so causes great harm,” they added.

“Fur and foie gras bans would uphold a commitment to high animal welfare standards both here and overseas.”

The letter was signed by Tory MPs Bob Blackman, Tracey Crouch, Louie French, Sir Roger Gale, Tim Loughton, and Chris Loder – as well as Tory peer Lord Randall of Uxbridge and former Tory MEP John Flack.

‘Far greater cruelty’

It was also signed by the co-founders of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation – a pressure group that counts the prime minister’s father Stanley Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson among its prominent backers.

Environment minister Zac Goldsmith, another supporter of the group, told the Guardian this week the public is “strongly in favour of measures to curb the fur trade and foie gras”.

He added: “There are some who view the issue as a matter of personal choice, but no one would extend that principle to things like dog-fighting or bear-baiting, so it’s not clear why fur farming or force-feeding geese, which arguably are associated with far greater levels of cruelty, should be any different.”

The government said it was committed to “world-leading” reforms “at home and abroad” as part of its action plan for animal welfare.

A spokesperson added that a summary of responses to a recent call for evidence on the current fur sector would be published soon.