The Labour party have confirmed they will continue to allow pre-existing badger cull licences in the future.

Labour Defra spokesperson Steve Reed made the confirmation on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, despite the party’s manifesto promising to end the ‘ineffective’ cull.

Mr Reed expressed concerns about the impact of an immediate end to the cull, stating, “We’re not going to end any of the existing licences, let me be clear on that, we don’t want to send any sudden shocks into the system.”

Labour’s manifesto had declared the intention to work with farmers ‘on measures to eradicate bovine TB, protecting livelihoods, so that we can end the ineffective badger cull’.

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Wildlife campaigners have criticised this U-turn, as the licences can run until 2026 and could result in a further 30,000 badgers being culled, according to the Badger Trust.

The Trust remarked, “Continuing to cull badgers until 2026, even though Labour has publicly announced that culling is ineffective. The current decision to allow the ongoing licences until 2026, together with Reed’s concern about sending ‘sudden shocks into the system,’ is presumably a tactical move to ensure support from sections of the farming industry.”

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have pledged to continue with the badger cull, while the Liberal Democrats have not yet commented on the issue.