Donkey Sanctuary prepares for life after Brexit

The Donkey Sanctuary's advocacy director Ian Caswey with Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA Sue Hay

The Donkey Sanctuary's advocacy director Ian Caswey with Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA Sue Hayman MP. Picture: The Donkey Sanctuary - Credit: Archant

Brexit affects more than just humans and one of Sidmouth’s biggest businesses is preparing for all the outcomes.

Ian Cawsey, advocacy director at the Donkey Sanctuary, told the Herald how the organisation is preparing for the future while the possibility of no-deal Brexit looms large.

Mr Cawsey, who is a former MP for Brigg and Goole in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, said: “People think people first and animals second, that’s just how it is, but a lot of people know there are concerns for humans and if we don’t have a good Brexit and a proper transitional deal, there could be problems with supplies of certain medicines well that’s equally true in the animal world. We’ve got thousands of donkeys in Devon and we have a whole team of staff that look after them and give them great lives but we will need access to medicines after Brexit. All these things have to be worked through.”

The sanctuary is part of a group called the Brexit and Animals Task Force, which meets to look at scenarios under which the UK may leave the EU. Last month, representatives from the Donkey Sanctuary and 36 other UK animal welfare organisations travelled to Parliament where they met MPs.

Mr Cawsey said 60 or 70 MPs attended, including Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom (DEFRA) Michael Gove – despite Prime Minister Theresa May announcing a statement at the same time – and that the MPs were keen to put laws in place so that animals do not suffer after Brexit.

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The concern is that around 80% of animal legislation originates from the EU. While the process of converting these into British law can be relatively straightforward, the deadline of March 29 is looming.

In a statement, a DEFRA spokesman told the Herald the department has no intention of watering down the welfare standards after Brexit, and that it will continue to take action to improve animal welfare.

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Mr Cawsey said: “We don’t have to get dragged into whether Brexit is a good thing or a bad thing – that’s entirely a matter for parliament – but if they say that Brexit is going to go ahead, we would say [make it] orderly with a transitional period and enough time for everyone to be happy that everything that needs to be covered has been covered.”

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