The father of then Foreign Secretary and current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called for ‘Halal’ meat to be either banned or labeled.
Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative MEP, author and journalist, wrote a piece in The Independent suggesting that he would “happy to see” halal meat excluded from the UK following Brexit.
A “religious exception” exists in spite of the EU’s 2009 Slaughter Regulation, which requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter.
The Halal meat market, or, meat from an animal that has been slaughtered without prior stunning, had a market size of approximately $3.5B in 2016, according to The Evening Standard.
Mr Johnson said: “I don’t believe that religious convictions, however deeply held, justify unnecessary cruelty to animals.
“I would be happy to see specific UK legislation, drafted to replace the EU Slaughter Directive, explicitly preclude the “religious exemption” from pre-stunning requirements.”
Mr Johnson made the claim that many consumers unknowingly ate Halal meat due to the fact that it was unlabeled at the supermarkets they were sold at.
However, Mr Johnson was fully aware of the difficulties of implementing a ban on unstunned meat:
Personally, I much regret that the UK invoked the “religious exemption” in the first place. I don’t believe that religious convictions, however deeply held, justify unnecessary cruelty to animals – a position which, I am glad to say, has been vigorously maintained for some time by organisations such as the British Veterinary Association, the Humane Slaughter Association and the RSPCA. I would be happy to see specific UK legislation, drafted to replace the EU slaughter directive, explicitly preclude the “religious exemption” from pre-stunning requirements.
I recognise, however, given the strength of feeling in some quarters (and given the explicit commitments in the Conservative 2015 Manifesto to “protect methods of religious slaughter”), that “dropping the religious exemption” may be difficult to achieve in the present context, however desirable in the long term.
Mr Johnson, who is known for his activity concerning animal welfare, holding an RSPCA’s Richard Martin Award for Outstanding Services to Animal Welfare, said the following about a possible compromise if Halal and Kosher slaughter couldn’t be banned outright: “If the consumer actually knows what he or she is buying, we would – I believe – in very short order see a major reduction of halal products without at the same time offending the sensibilities of religious groups.
“Well-judged “post-Brexit” action by the UK in the field of animal welfare and the environment may act as a spur and a stimulus to our continental, but no longer-EU, partners to up their own game.”
Since Boris Johnson’s stellar election win last week, British Muslims have said that they do not feel safe in the UK, according to The Independent.