Tony Blair has admitted in his memoirs that he regrets enforcing the hunting ban.

Blair writes in A Journey, published today, that the Hunting Act of 2004 is ‘one of the domestic legislative measures I most regret’.

Later, on holiday in Italy, he met a hunting woman who ‘calmly and persuasively’ convinced him that it had been a mistake.

The former Prime Minister’s heart had clearly not been in the ban, which he proposed to soft-soap backbenchers during a difficult time in parliament. He says that by the end of the debate – which took up 700 hours of parliamentary time – more than the decision to invade Iraq – ‘I felt like the damned fox’.

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Blair’s confession gives ammunition to the repeal lobby, particularly his statement that he ensured the act was ‘a masterly compromise’ that left enough loopholes to allow hunting to continue ‘provided certain steps were taken to avoid cruelty when the fox is killed’.

David Cameron has promised a free vote in the Commons to repeal the Hunting Act.

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