Wednesday’s planned House of Commons vote on whether to relax fox hunting laws in England and Wales have been delayed after the SNP said it would vote against the changes.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said David Cameron he is “not master of all he surveys”, adding that the decision to delay the hunting vote showed “David Cameron can’t carry his own parliamentary group”, and that he only had a “slender and fragile” majority.
The party had previously said it would not vote on issues affecting England and Wales only.
The prime minister said the SNP’s position was “entirely opportunistic”.
A Downing Street source added:
This happened because Nicola Sturgeon has done a 180-degree U-turn. Her actions speak for themselves. That’s why we are in the position we are in.
(David Cameron) is disappointed that the SNP are involving themselves in an issue which doesn’t affect the Scottish people.
Despite the delay in the vote, the protests against fox hunting have gone ahead outside the House of Parliament, turning into a scene of celebration after the news was announced.
The changes would have brought the Hunting Act in line with Scotland (which the SNP intends to challenge), where an unlimited number of dogs can be used to “flush out” a fox to be shot, compared to just two in England and Wales.
But with 56 SNP MPs, plus Labour and some Conservative MPs opposed to hunting, the government’s change stood little chance of being approved in Wednesday’s free vote, much to the delight of anti-hunting protesters everywhere.