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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  • Geoffrey Woollard

    Most of us knew that Tony Blair was personally uneasy about the fox hunting ban, but most of the Labour members wanted it, most of the Lib Dems wanted it, and some of the Conservatives wanted it. It received all-party support. The persistence of Ann Widdecombe and Tony Banks in its pursuit was heroic. But, most importantly, public opinion, both urban and rural, was ready for it. Like the bear baiting and cock fighting of old, fox hunting, hare coursing, stag hunting, etc., had all come to the end of their days of acceptability. These so-called ‘sports’ were known and seen to be incompatible with our British approach to wild animals. There is plenty of suffering in nature already: it doesn’t have to be made worse by those who are out for ‘fun.’ Incidentally, I write this as a former shooting man, as a farmer and as a born-and-bred countryman.