Labour backtracks on pledge to ban 'ineffective' badger cull

Steve Reed said an immediate end to the badger cull would send “shocks into the system”
Steve Reed said an immediate end to the badger cull would send “shocks into the system”

The Shadow Defra Secretary has confirmed that Labour would continue to allow pre-existing badger cull licences if the party wins the general election.

Steve Reed made the confirmation on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, after the party's manifesto promised to end the 'ineffective' cull.

Mr Reed said he was concerned that an immediate end to the cull would send “shocks into the system”.

He told the BBC: “We’re not going to end any of the existing licences, let me be clear on that, we don’t want to send any sudden shocks into the system.”

It comes after Labour's manifesto stated it would work with farmers "on measures to eradicate bovine TB, protecting livelihoods, so that we can end the ineffective badger cull.”

The U-turn has been slammed by wildlife campaigners, as the licences can run for until 2026 and could result in a further 30,000 badgers being culled, according to the Badger Trust.

"Continuing to cull badgers until 2026, even though Labour has publicly announced that culling is ineffective, will mean around 30,000 more individual badger lives will be lost," the trust said.

"The current decision to allow the ongoing licences until 2026, together with Reed’s concern about sending 'sudden shocks into the system', is presumably a tactical move to ensure support from sections of the farming industry."

The Conservatives have pledged to continue with the badger cull, while the Liberal Democrats have not spoken about the issue.