Animal protection is perhaps higher on the political agenda than ever, with sustained public debate and a flurry of recent announcements from the Government focusing on animal welfare. It’s all to the good, with the welfare of animals in the UK fast approaching a critical crossroads as we prepare to leave the European Union.

Given the importance of these issues, increased collaboration amongst charities in the sector is good news for the animals we all strive to protect. That’s why in the report Brexit – getting the best deal for animals published this week, we’ve come together to highlight the great opportunities ahead for animal welfare and the importance of not allowing existing protections to slip.

The Government’s recent words on this have been warm, promising not only to maintain current standards, but to advance protections and ensure the UK becomes 'a world leader on animal welfare'.

The report was produced by 40 animal protection charities, including the League, brought together by the UK Centre for Animal Law (A-Law) and Wildlife and Countryside Link. It offers a detailed summary of the current state of play of EU legislation, including protecting wild animals, and what the Government should do if it is to live up to its words and turn them into action.

Recommendations made in the report include ensuring the full and effective transposition of the Birds Directive, making sure the Habitats Directive is fully implemented, including by expanding a presumption of protection to all wild animals so that any exemptions must be made explicit, and strengthening the enforcement of pet travel rules which are too often flouted by both puppy breeders and those involved in dog fighting.

The storm that surrounded last November’s decision not to write a commitment to pay full regard to animal welfare in policymaking into the EU Withdrawal Bill, and the subsequent publication of a draft Bill designed to enshrine the principle in UK law and potentially extend the protection it affords to wild animals, is also a prominent example of how much it matters to the public and the future of animals that we move forwards not backwards on animal welfare.

As the report sets out, we all look forward to engaging with politicians and stakeholders to make the UK a world leader in animal welfare, and urge the Government to make a positive difference for animals.

The report is available here and a press release about its publication here.