ALMOST 70 per cent of Worcester News readers say they are AGAINST the fox hunting ban being repealed - calling it "barbaric".

A poll by this newspaper has found significant opposition to scraping the existing law after Theresa May revealed it faces being re-visited after the General Election.

The Prime Minister says she is in favour of hunting, and wants MPs to be handed a free vote to axe the 2004 law if she stays in Downing Street.

The poll, which ran from 11am until 5pm on our website today, revealed how 68 per cent backed the ban, with 31 per cent wanting it legalised and one per cent unsure.

The issue has caused a stir in Worcestershire, particularly as one of the county's former Labour MPs paved the way for the ban in the first place.

Ex-Worcester MP Mike Foster, who introduced a Private Member's Bill in 1997 to try and ban fox hunting, paving the way for the changes, said: "I find it a very odd move to make.

"If you want an excuse not to vote Conservative, she's just given people that.

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"It shows the big risk of what would happen at this election if they get a blank cheque to do what they like on the back of a Brexit argument which is false anyway."

Councillor Joy Squires, Labour's parliamentary candidate in Worcester, said: "With all the challenges facing British people today, how can Theresa May suggest that a minority group with a minority interest, strongly linked to wealth and privilege should occupy precious parliamentary time?

"A vote for me is a vote to keep the ban on this violent and pointless ‘tradition’.

"Polls indicate that 84 per cent of the public are opposed to a change in the law on hunting with hounds.

"Yet we have a leader of the Tories who is priming her hunting friends for a vote in parliament that goes against that huge majority.

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"What other threats to our modern, inclusive and tolerant society would a big Conservative majority at Westminster pose?

"If I am elected I will vote against any moves to bring back fox hunting."

Worcester's Conservative parliamentary candidate Robin Walker today insisted he would back a repeal on the basis the legislation "does not work".

He said: "I've always been clear that if a vote was held to repeal the current law, I would vote to repeal it.

"I don't think the legislation is very good and I don't think it works, it's a slightly farcical law that the police struggle to implement.

"All the parliamentary committees that have looked at this say it's no less kind or cruel than shooting, snaring or gassing foxes, which are the other ways they're disposed of.

"If there was a ban on hunting, it's those kind of methods which would be encouraged."

He also told the Worcester News it has only been raised with him on the city's doorsteps "about twice" in the last decade.

"It's not something I'll be wasting precious time on in parliament because in a seat like Worcester's it's not even in the city's top 10 most important issues," he said.

Leaked emails from Tory peer Lord Mancroft have revealed how pro-fox hunting campaigners are plotting to use a huge Conservative majority to push for a repeal of the law.

In his emails, seen by the Daily Mirror, Lord Mancroft wrote: "A majority of 50 or more would give us a real opportunity for repeal of the Hunting Act.

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"This is by far the best opportunity we have had since the ban, and is probably the best we are likely to get in the foreseeable future."

Mrs May was then questioned about it during a visit to Leeds yesterday, where she told reporters she was in favour of allowing the blood sport, saying parliament should have a say.

"Personally, I've always been in favour of fox hunting and we maintain our commitment - we had a commitment previously - as a Conservative Party to allow a free vote and that would allow parliament to take a decision on this," she said.

Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner today said the act had "failed", adding that he would wait and see what was contained in the Conservative manifesto.

The Hunting Act 2004, passed in November of that year after a free vote in the Commons, makes fox hunting unlawful in England and Wales.

But certain modified forms of hunting foxes with hounds are still within the law, and 'shooting foxes as vermin' also remains lawful, making the act hard to enforce.

The Government decided to postpone a Commons vote on relaxing elements of the act back in 2015, fearing defeat after the 56-strong SNP revealed it was siding with Labour.

Mr Foster found a dead fox dumped at the bottom of his garden on the same day the vote was shelved, pictured below.

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