Conservative plans to reintroduce fox hunting appear to be under threat after David Cameron was forced to water down plans to repeal the ban.
The Prime Minister came to a compromise with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg over plans to abandon the hunting ban following policy negotiations on Tuesday (18 May).
It is understood the issue had threatened to become a sticking point between the two parties in the coalition government.
The Conservatives’ rural manifesto had vowed to give MPs a free vote on whether the ban should be lifted based on their personal views rather than an official party line.
But with the Liberal Democrats having previously opposed plans to repeal the ban, Mr Cameron was forced to renege slightly following the talks.
MPs will now have the chance to vote on a parliamentary motion later in the year on whether to hold a free vote on the ban.
The free vote will only happen if the majority of MPs support the motion, but it is unclear wither MPs will back it.
If the Conservatives had won an outright majority in the election then it was expected the ban would be lifted.
Based on party loyalties, however, the motion would fail to get passed as only three Labour MPs and 18 Lib Dems had previously voted to legalise hunting.
The news will come as a blow to many farmers and landowners who had backed the Conservatives on the party’s promise to allow a free vote on the ban.
The party had long pledged to work to repeal the Labour Party’s ban, which came into effect in 2005.
Mr Cameron himself said he supported the freedom to hunt.