Labour MP Angela Rayner sparked a fiery debate on the badger cull by declaring her opposition to the policy on Twitter.

Shadow education secretary Ms Rayner tweeted a satirical photo from The Wind in the Willows in which Mr Badger has been “murdered by the Tories”.

The Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne said she would be working with those who “oppose the dreadful murder and slaughter of our badgers”.

See also: Read the latest news on bovine TB 

She later branded people who had criticised her anti-cull stance as “morons and half-wits”.

But Cheshire dairy farmer Phil Latham suggested Ms Rayner “hadn’t got a clue about disease control”, adding the “politicisation of TB policy” is why we are in a mess with badgers and cattle.

Den Leonard, a farm vet operating in the Cheshire/Shropshire area replied to Ms Rayner: “I would love the opportunity to discuss this disease with you if you would allow me to. It has devastated my practice area. Yours is next.”

Dairy farmer Nick Hiscox weighed in: “Forget cows, come up with a plan to rid badgers of TB to stop them spreading to other badgers. And years ago we culled a lot more badgers.”

But Ms Rayner’s comments drew lots of support from anti-cull supporters.

“The Tories are scapegoating the badgers, the cull is to keep the big farms onside. It won’t work!” said Ian Helsby.