Boost for racing as free movement of horses is set to be extended
Racing's hopes that free movement of racehorses will continue after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union next March received a boost from the government this week.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble, minister at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, said the government expected the rules governing the movement of horses to continue during the 21-month implementation period after Brexit, running to the end of 2020.
The tripartite agreement (TPA) between Britain, Ireland and France allowing free movement of horses for racing and breeding ends after Brexit, and there has been concern in all three countries that the industry could be damaged as a result.
Lord Gardiner was responding to a series of written questions about Brexit's effect on horseracing from Lord Risby, the former MP for West Suffolk – the constituency that includes Newmarket.
Lord Risby asked ministers what progress they had made regarding arrangements for the movement of thoroughbreds for racing and breeding following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
In response Lord Gardiner said: "The government wishes to see the rules governing the movement of horses, including the TPA, continue through any implementation period, and expects this to happen.
"Our priority is for the movement of horses then to continue, following the UK's withdrawal and the implementation period, with minimal delay and bureaucracy, while safeguarding animal welfare, biosecurity and disease control.
"We are working with the sectors concerned in order to deliver this and where change is necessary to ensure it is in the UK’s best interests."
The importance of the TPA to the sport was illustrated by figures from 2016 that showed 7,500 thoroughbreds travelled to Britain from Ireland and 2,500 in the opposite direction, while 2,856 went from France to Britain with 2,134 making the reverse journey.
A total of 2,354 thoroughbreds went from France to Ireland with 2,780 travelling the other way, but nearly all journeys between those two countries were made via Britain.
Lord Gardiner also noted that the BHA had responded to the Migration Advisory Committee's call for evidence on the impact of workers from the European Economic Area in the UK labour market, given concerns about racing's staffing levels.
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