Fur activists stage a silent protest outside Parliament

LONDON — The fur debate continues to unravel in the U.K. with the Labour party now demanding a total fur ban in the country, during a debate held today at Westminster.

Ahead of the debate, designer Stella McCartney wrote an open letter in support of the cause.

In her letter, McCartney highlights the recent shift in attitude toward fur as an indication that the country needs to take a step further and ban fur, to reflect the public sentiment.

“Over the past few years countless brands and designers have woken up to the unequivocal cruelty of the fur industry and have subsequently stopped using fur in their collections. More than 80 percent of British people believe it is unacceptable to buy or sell any animal fur. The world is moving in a more positive direction and it is time for the UK to take the vital next step,” wrote the designer, who has never used fur or leather in her collections.

McCartney added that she sees the U.K.’s current policy of banning fur farming 20 years ago yet allowing fur imports into the country as “hypocritical and unacceptable” and addressed the argument that real fur is a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly option to its faux alternatives.

“A common defence deployed by the fur industry is that fur is natural and therefore inextricable with sustainability. This claim is false and misleading. First, fur is natural only in the sense that it comes from an animal; however, in order to be sellable fur has to be tanned in a process contaminated by toxic chemicals and heavy metals. This stops the natural decomposition process. It is important to highlight that something from natural origins does not inherently make it sustainable and innocuous,” said the designer, adding that the industry is continuing to look for new innovations and more sustainable, biodegradable solutions of creating “a new generation of faux fur.”

At Parliament, members of the Labour party pledged to ban all fur imports in the U.K. “on grounds of public morality.” They cited the issue of mislabelling real fur products as faux fur, as one of the main issues with selling fur in the country and argued that by banning fur the customer will never have to be in the position of being sold a product they don’t want again.

They also reiterated McCartney’s argument that by allowing fur imports into the country, fur farming is just being outsourced and cancels out the government’s policy of banning fur farming and trapping.

A petition signed by 400,000 members of the public in support of the fur ban was also presented to Parliament and the public sentiment was further highlighted with the presence of anti-fur protestors outside Parliament who held banners and pictures showing the conditions in fur farms across 15 countries that export fur to Britain, including France, Poland, Canada and China.

Earlier this year, fur organizations also presented their case to Parliament citing the high welfare standards in fur farms across Europe, consumers’ right to freedom of choice and the danger of a fur ban resulting in the demand to further ban other animal products such as feathers and exotic skins.

In response to the demand for a fur ban, Mike Moser, chief executive officer of the British Fur Trade talked about the ramifications of banning a profitable industry, especially at a time when Brexit presents multiple financial risks for the country. Retail sales of fur products, he said, reached 162 million pounds in 2016, a 350 percent increase on 2011. “I question why would we want to ban a legitimate industry, one that is thriving and one that should be free to exercise its freedom of choice? We would lose business of a value up to 162 million pounds and there would undoubtedly be an employment hit.”

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