Why we need a better Brexit deal for animals

Posted on 08/04/2019 by Sonul Badiani-Hamment

Kerry McCarthy presents 10 Minute Rule Bill calling for animal sentience to be recognised in UK law before we leave the EU

Bristol East MP and champion for animals Kerry McCarthy has presented an animal sentience Bill at parliament to a welcome reception from fellow members of the house. She did a fantastic job and has secured a second reading for the Bill.

Kerry tells us “Since 2017, the government has repeatedly promised it would reproduce the European law on animal sentience, before we leave the EU. However, the clock’s ticked down, it hasn’t happened and it’s now time for action – we must acknowledge in law that animals are capable of feeling pleasure, pain and suffering.

Kerry McCarthy supports a #BetterDealForAnimals. Credit: James McCauley

Risks to animals include lower welfare imports

Under current UK government plans, animals would receive less legal protection post-Brexit than they do while we’re part of the EU. This is because government departments would not have the same legal requirement to take account of animal sentience and welfare when creating and putting into effect new laws and rules.  

This will leave the UK open to lower animal welfare imports such as chlorinated chicken and puts our wildlife at risk when planning for new housing projects or roads.


Animal charities, MPs and celebrities have all backed a #BetterDealForAnimals

The sentience Bill follows our parliamentary launch of the #BetterDealForAnimals campaign in February, to ensure animals don't become victims of Brexit. Thanks to thousands of you writing to your MPs and urging them to back the campaign the launch was a huge success with Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), showing his support and giving the keynote address.  

Over 100 MPs also signed our early day motion (EDM) calling for debate of the issue in parliament and over 70,000 supporters have now signed our petition, launched by Alesha Dixon.  

The #BetterDealForAnimals campaign is calling on government to speedily recognise animal sentience in law and create a duty, capable of being meaningfully carried out, on Ministers to consider animal welfare standards when making and putting into practice future laws.

Holstein cattle on Worthy Farm, Glastonbury.  Credit: Sam Frost / World Animal Protection

Existing UK laws not enough

The UK government says animals are protected by existing laws – particularly the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – but this doesn't cover all animals, such as wildlife. Other laws on farm animals permit poor practices, such as keeping laying hens caged, and farming ducks without full access to bathing water. It is therefore essential that the government introduce sentience as a matter of priority, to ensure there is no gap in animal welfare law once we leave the EU. 

Chicken roaming outdoors

Egg laying hens which live cage-free. Credit: World Animal Protection

You can urge MPs to make animal sentience law. 

We urgently need to keep up the pressure to make sure government acts before it is too late. 

Please sign our petition urging government to pass a strong law that recognises animals have feelings and emotions and protects their welfare when new laws and policies are made. We have already achieved over 70,000 signatures, but we need to reach our goal of 100,000 signatures to secure an important debate in Parliament. 

Together we can make sure that animals don’t become victims of Brexit. 

Click here to sign the petition