The explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has called on Prime Minister Theresa May not to repeal the ban on fox hunting, saying the Conservative Party should "move on".
The 72 year old, who once marched with the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, said Tory voters' views had changed since the Hunting Act 2004 and urged the party to focus on other rural issues like housing and support for farmers.
He wrote to the new Prime Minister as Andrea Leadsom was appointed Environment Secretary. Mrs Leadsom, who stood to become Tory leader before dropping out, said during her leadership campaign that she would commit to holding a vote to repeal the Hunting Act if elected.
In his letter, released by the League Against Cruel Sports, Sir Ranulph said:
In his letter, Sir Ranulph cited an opinion poll showing 84% of people in the countryside and 70% of Tory voters were against repealing the hunting ban, adding that 50 of the party's MPs now openly supported the legislation, compared with four when it was introduced by Tony Blair's Labour government.
Earlier this month Mrs Leadsom told ITV news that the hunting ban had "not proven to be in the interests of animal welfare whatsoever".
Fox hunting with dogs was made illegal in the UK in 2005. Many hunts have
continued operating within the law. Sir Ranulph also cited a recent investigation by the league which claimed live fox cubs were thrown to hounds as part of their training. He added: