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MP Tracey Crouch defies party whip in battle against badger cull

PUBLISHED: 10:35 06 June 2013 | UPDATED: 10:35 06 June 2013

Badger

Badger

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Defeated in vote, but Chatham MP goes against her party

MP Tracey Crouch failed in her bid to prevent a mass cull of badgers - despite an empassioned plea in the House of Commons yesterday.

The Conservative representative for Chatham and Aylesford revealed she had come under pressure from Tory whips to support the cull or abstain, but was determined to make a stand.

Labour had called a vote on a motion to stop the cull, and despite opposition from both Tory and Lib Dem rebels, it was defeated by 299 votes to 250.

Ms Crouch said: “When I spoke in a previous debate on this issue, I was one of few Conservative members who stood up, spoke, and then voted against the culling of badgers. I was surrounded by colleagues who profoundly disagreed with me, some of whom have barely spoken to me since.

“It was one of the most daunting experiences in my short time here.

“It feels like groundhog day, although this time it has come with added pressure for me to change my mind or abstain on the matter. I have been accused — rather patronisingly — of not understanding the science and, worse, of condemning farmers in individual constituencies to further incidences of disease.

“I have been told that I do not understand the horrific impact of bovine TB in cattle, or indeed in badgers, and that culling badgers is actually a way to be kind to them, rather than being cruel, and thus my fears about animal welfare should be allayed.

“Let me be clear: I have enormous sympathy for farmers affected by bovine TB, not simply because of the clear financial cost to farms, but because of the way the disease impacts on farmers’ lives and livelihoods, and often, as colleagues have stated, their mental health.

“Although it will probably make little difference in the great scheme of things, I want my voting record to show that I am against this barbaric, indiscriminate and ill-thought-through cull. I would prefer a science-led, welfare-oriented response to the control and reduction of bovine TB that protects both cattle and badgers from this nasty disease.”

Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, also opposed the cull.

The RSPCA has confirmed it intends to fight on in the case.

It said: “Unfortunately this was not a ‘free vote’ and we’re disappointed that the Government saw fit to introduce a ‘three line whip’ on the debate which meant that MPs were under strict instruction to attend and vote with the party line or suffer the consequences. Despite that, a number of MPs bravely defied the Government to vote against the cull.”

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