British MPs considering how to legally recognize and protect the sentient feeling of animals

British MPs were roundly denounced on social media after one headline posted that they had voted to turn down a motion about the sentient feelings of animals.

Last week MPs voted not to incorporate part of an EU treaty recognizing that animals could feel emotion and pain into the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Ministers are considering how to amend UK law to recognize animal sentience after Brexit, says Environment Minister Michael Gove.

The outrage on social media included celebrities but the news was too simplistic, verging on fake. MPs did not really vote that animals cannot feel pain and suffering. Rather, they voted against the UK government having a duty to take this into account post-Brexit.

All members of the European Union signed the Lisbon treaty, which came into force in 2009. Article 13 of the treaty states that “since animals are sentient beings, [countries must] pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals”.

Sentience is the ability to feel pain and fear, as well as joy and happiness. Scientifically, there is now an overwhelming amount of research to suggest that many animals are sentient.

Reacting on Twitter, TV presenter Ben Fogle, who had been among those to criticise the government, said Gove’s announcement this week had brought “clarity at last.”

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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