Yesterday, unexpectedly, Ranil Jayawardena MP submitted a parliamentary question to the Secretary of State for Defra which, in essence, challenged her to consider an early end to the Hampshire cull based on the latest APHA Epidemiology Report for the county. We've been emphasising the lack of any confirmed evidence of bTB reservoirs in Hampshire badgers and the lack of evidence that wildlife is a confirmed soure of cattle infection pathways here since the APHA report came out at the end of November. It's good to know that Jayawardena is finally awake to the strength of feeling in his constituency, that we're not going to quieten down any time soon (quite the opposite!) and that it's clear there's no scientific justification for the Hampshire cull whatsoever.
This is a surprising, welcome development. The response from Mark Spencer isn't a surprise. He's a farmer and long-standing supporter of the cull. In fact his reply, which completely ignores the basis of Jayawardena's question and makes no attempt to answer it, is helpful to us. We'll continue to expose what's going on here and publicly press Mark Spencer and Defra for a considered, Hampshire-specific reply.
Badger Trust and Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are also now aware of this and we're considering how we can sieze on this opportunity to create further pressure on Defra.
Here's the Hansard link to their exchange. If you agree that Spencer hasn't answered the question, you can say so on there and I'd encourage you all to do that, please.