DEFRA minister Michael Gove has committed the Conservative government to the "very highest animal welfare and environmental standards" post-Brexit – including restricting live export of animals for slaughter.

Mr Gove was speaking in support of calls from the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation and Conservative Environment Network to improve farm animal welfare and to protect the environment as the UK leaves the European Union, and forge new 'world leading' approaches to policy.

"We have already proposed primary legislation to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and the creation of a new statutory, independent body to uphold environmental standards," said Mr Gove. "Our recent ban on microbeads, which harm marine animals has been hailed as the strongest in the world.

"Once we have left the EU there is even more we could do. We hope to crack down on puppy smuggling and are looking at ways to restrict the live exports of animal for slaughter.”

The CAWF and CEN held a joint event in Westminster this week to promote this high welfare message, presumably as a counter to last week's negative headlines over the Government's removal of the recognition of animal sentience from its EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Other recent developments highlighted including the Conservative's backing for the ban on "bee killing pesticides" and the introduction of mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses.

CAWF patron Sir Roger Gale MP, who hosted the House of Commons reception attended by Ministers, advisors and representatives from across the environmental and animal welfare sectors, commented: “This is the most impressive statement that I have in 34 years in the House of Commons heard from any Minister of any Government in support of animal welfare. It was amazing."

Lorraine Platt, co-founder of CAWF welcomed the progress being made and said: "We applaud the Minister’s recent announcements to protect the environment and important measures to advance animal welfare. We are pleased that many of the proposals that we presented to No 10 in our animal welfare briefings in January 2017 have now been announced as proposed legislation. We hope to see a ban on the export of live animals for slaughter and more.”