Did Great Britain Just Deny Animal Sentience As Part of Brexit?

Last week, social media in the UK went bonkers over a vote in parliament on whether to incorporate the concept of animal sentience taken from article 13, Section 2 of the Lisbon treaty into the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Members of Parliament voted against the inclusion by a small margin, leading news outlets like the Independent to report “MPs Refuse to Recognize Animals Feel Pain or Emotion in UK Brexit Bill Vote”. Like most news headlines, it was created for shock value and news organizations have since come under fire for reporting the issue unfairly.

As Tracey Crouch, a Conservative MP for Aylesford and Chatham pointed out in a tweet earlier last week, the EU protocol itself is extremely lax, and permits bullfighting, fois gras, veal farming, fur farming and more as “cultural practices.”

Does the Animal Welfare Act Go Far Enough?tracey crouch animal sentience brexit

Overall, Conservatives are fighting back against the claim that they don’t believe animals feel pain or emotions. Initially, many MPs argued that Great Britain’s 2006 Animal Welfare Act is sufficient on its own. However, in response to overwhelming public criticism of Parliament’s vote, MPs are changing their tune.

In a written statement, Michael Gove states “This Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare…As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals.” This sounds well and good, but it’s still words at this point. MP Caroline Lucas is absolutely correct in highlighting the need to explicitly recognize animal sentience.

Explicitly Recognizing Animal Sentience is Key

Overall, I agree completely with Lucas that current UK Animal Welfare statutes don’t go nearly far enough. However, I think it’s important that the public continues to put massive pressure on their government to commit to enshrining animal sentience in UK law.

What do you think? Join the conversation!

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