FARMED ANIMALS are being readied for "sacrifice on the altar of free trade", according to a leading Green Party MEP.

A new report compiled by the Green Party's animal spokesperson Keith Taylor concludes that Brexit will risk the future of animal welfare in the UK, by causing a shortage of vets, more expensive veterinary medicine and higher numbers of animals used in research.

During the Green Party spring conference in Bournemouth last weekend, Mr Taylor, who is also vice chair of the European Parliament's Animal Welfare Intergroup, launched his 'Animals and Brexit' report, which outlined a very bleak future for animal welfare protections post-Brexit – leaving the EU, he predicted, will mean abandoning the achievements in animal welfare the UK has worked with the EU to build.

Mr Taylor's study suggests that future trade and migration agendas mean potentially striking bargains with new trade partners who may fail to comply with the same stringent standards imposed here in the UK.

The loss of access to EU funding and research networks will also hamper progress towards the replacement of animal testing programmes and may risk the duplication of tests.

Mr Taylor said: "For the last 45 years, we have been influential members of a collaborative body that has worked to secure important animal welfare safeguards at home and across Europe. Leaving the EU, consequently, will be one of the most defining political events for the protection of animals in the UK.

"From the freedom of movement for EU vets to access to EU-wide research networks developing alternatives to animal testing, so many UK animal welfare advances are inexorably linked with our membership of the EU – advances seriously compromised by the hard Brexit course being piloted by a Government paralysed by confusion and division,” he said.

While the Westminster Government has claimed that the EU withdrawal Bill will allow for the transfer of animal welfare legislation into UK law, the Green report said that this claim failed to stand up to scrutiny – except that scrutiny, is something the Bill denies Parliament when it comes to amending and scrapping EU laws post-Brexit.

"The threats to animals posed by Brexit are tangible and plentiful," insisted Mr Taylor. "Farmed animals are being readied for sacrifice on the altar of free trade. Britain is set to take a step backwards on the road to cruelty-free research testing methods, with animals at risk of being the victims of doubly unnecessary and inhumane studies.

"Meanwhile, pet health and wellbeing is threatened by both a 'hostile environment' for migrants which is already driving away talented EU vets and the needless decision to exit the European Medicines Agency,” concluded Mr Taylor.