tory leaders and dead fox

Tory pro-fox hunting leaders and MPs

With the General Election just around the corner, it’s looking like the Tories’ time in power will be over very soon! But we mustn’t be complacent. In this article, we remind our readers how this pro-hunting party has waged a war on foxes since it came back into power in 2010.

Since taking over from Labour 14 years ago, there have been five prime ministers – David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak. Each of them has held a contempt for foxes.

The fox-hating leaders

Cameron, who called the Hunting Act a “farce”, rode with the Heythrop Hunt pre-ban. In the run-up to the election in 2010, he stated that he would give MPs a free vote on repealing the hunting ban. Fast-forward to 2015, and the Tories’ manifesto wanted to “give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.” But 70 Tory MPs stated they would oppose a repeal of the Hunting Act, along with the SNP, so Cameron’s dream was, effectively shelved.

Then in 2017 Theresa May promised the same if elected – that MPs would have a free vote – because May herself had “always been in favour of foxhunting”. Huge protests followed, culminating with a march on Downing Street. By 2018, May too was forced to back down on the Tory promise after the Conservatives’ general election disaster – a reversal widely acknowledged to have been partly caused by the Prime Minister’s surprise backing for the repeal of anti-hunting legislation.



Boris Johnson came into power in 2019. Back in 2013, when he was mayor of London, he called for the culling of the capital’s foxes, and that anyone with fox “problems” should call pest control. He stated:

“If people want to get together to form the fox hounds of Islington I’m all for it.”

In 2020 Johnson made national headlines after words that he’d previously written in 2005 came back to haunt him. Writing for The Spectator, Johnson spoke of his love of fox hunting after riding with the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt (which in 2024 merged with the Southdown and Eridge Hunt) just before the hunting ban came into force. Johnson, who was Tory MP for Henley at the time, stated that he was “taken to kissing [horse] Bertha’s aromatic neck” but that Bertha’s trotting was “wearing on the goolies”. He then wrote:

“there is the added interest of the weird semi-sexual relation with the horse…”

He continued:

“In banning this trivial and ritual expression of bloodlust, they are doing something literally immoral. They are going against the grain of human nature, and using legislation to suppress an instinct as old as man.”

Johnson summarised that he hoped that the hunt would ignore the hunting ban. Essentially, he was calling for it to break the law when he said:

“I hope that the hunt holds up the ban to the ridicule it deserves, that they defy the police and the magistrates and the government, until a new government can rescue an old tradition and restore it for the sake of freedom and freedom alone.”

It should come as little surprise, therefore, that while vying for Tory leadership in 2019, Johnson was given a £16,000 donation by fox hunter Johan Christofferson. But having successfully beaten another pro-hunter, Jeremy Hunt to the title, Johnson’s Tory manifesto made no mention of giving MPs a vote to repeal the Hunting Act, instead saying that he would leave the Act as it was (effectively allowing hunting to continue).

In 2022, Liz Truss became Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister – for a grand total of 49 days. Back in 2015, when she was environment secretary, Truss stated that she wanted the Hunting Act repealed. She has also said:

“I completely agree that hunting is important for rural communities. It is traditional and part of the fabric of our countryside.”

And then the country was lumbered with Rishi Sunak, who became the country’s third prime minister in the space of two months. Like Truss before him, Sunak wasn’t voted in by the public. Back in 2015, when the Cameron government wanted to legalise hunting, Sunak falsely gave out information that could have led to the Hunting Act being repealed. He stated that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons thought that hunting was a humane way to control foxes, which he called “pests”. Sunak retracted his statement after he was challenged, admitting that some individual RSV members held this view, but that it was not the stance of the regulatory body itself.


Jacob Rees-Mogg

And then there’s the MPs

Of course, it isn’t just the leaders who have little interest in protecting Britain’s wildlife. There are numerous pro-hunting Tory MPs who won’t be running in the next election – and Protect the Wild won’t be sorry to see them go.

Included in this list are Michael Gove, whose WhatsApp messages showed how he pushed for hunting and shooting to be exempted from the ‘rule of six’ during the Covid pandemic. Also stepping down is Andrea Leadsom, who was previously Environment Secretary and who has been vocal about wanting to repeal the Hunting Act. Ben Wallace, who recently joined the British Hound Sports Association board, will also step down.

And then there are the fox-hating MPs who are hoping to win seats again. These include:

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg: North East Somerset and Hanham. One of the most famous Tory fox-hunting supporters, Rees-Mogg (pictured abve) allows the Mendip Farmers Hunt to hunt on his land, while his family attends hunts as field riders (see more about the Rees-Moggs in Protect the Wild’s article here).
  • Simon Hart: Caerfyrddin. Hart served as the Chief Whip of the House of Commons and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury since October 2022. He is the former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, and previously master of the South Pembrokeshire Hunt. Hart has previously been funded by hedge fund manager and hunter Johan Christofferson.
  • Richard Drax: South Dorset. In 2021, two foxes were hunted and killed by hounds from the South Dorset Hunt on land owned by Drax. According to Action Against Foxhunting, “Mr Drax’s family estate is Charborough Park. The South Dorset kennels are located in Charborough Park… Mr Drax’s family has a long history of fox hunting. In 2020, his grandfather’s “hunting attire” was acquired by a collector of hunting memorabilia called Firebrand.”
  • Mark Jenkinson: Penrith and Solway. Previously a UKIP politician before he joined the Conservatives, Jenkinson is outspoken about his love of hunting and is infamous for insulting or blocking those who challenge him about it on social media. On 5 April, Jenkinson posed with a beagle puppy, and tweeted that he has visited the Black Combe and District Beagles.
  • Bill Wiggin: North Herefordshire. Outspokenly pro-hunting, Wiggin spoke vocally in parliament against Protect the Wild’s Mini’s Law campaign. He says that hunting is about “liberty and livelihood”, and calls those who oppose it “class warriors”.
  • Ben Bradley: Mansfield. Bradley has previously received campaign support from convicted Grove and Rufford Hunt members. In 2017 Bradley was spotted handing out campaign leaflets to the convicted hunters.
  • Mark Spencer: Sherwood Forest. Spencer has also previously been supported by Grove and Rufford Hunt members, according to Wildlife Guardian.
  • Alex Chalk: Cheltenham. Although Chalk has stated he is not in favour of repealing the Hunting Act, he has previously received support from Vote-OK, a group that exists entirely to get pro-hunting people into positions of power.

Get them out!

In a recent article, Protect the Wild analysed the different party manifestos and their pledges (or lack of) for protecting wildlife. It is no surprise that the Tories and Reform come out bottom, with Greens at the top and Labour second.

After fourteen years of leaders who salivate at the thought of a fox being torn to death, there is a real opportunity to get the Tories out. Let’s make our voices heard and Vote for Wildlife on 4 July.