Pop superstar Leona Lewis has issued an emotional plea to the government to make Britain the world’s first country to ban all sales of real fur.
The award-winning singer, who has sold more than 30 million records worldwide, called for ministers to take a “world-leading stand” against the horrors of fur farming.
Lewis branded the trade “unspeakably cruel and utterly devoid of respect for animals as sentient beings”, as she spoke out in support of a campaign by Humane Society International for sales of real fur to be outlawed.
The UK ended fur farming 20 years ago but still supports fur farms abroad with imports, buying more than £670m worth of animal skins since the ban, according to figures from HMRC.
The Bleeding Love singer said: “Like me, the vast majority of British citizens believe it is unacceptable to buy or sell animal fur.
“Those brands still selling fur look increasingly outdated and out of touch.
“So now we look to the British government to do the right thing. We cannot call ourselves a nation of animal lovers for so long as we allow foxes, mink and other animals to lead miserable lives and painful deaths for fur that’s sold on our shores.”
London-born Lewis, who became the biggest-selling winner of The X Factor, said she once turned down an invitation to open the Harrods sale because she would not support a company that sells fur. The Independent has asked Harrods for comment.
“There is no question in my mind whatsoever but that the fur trade is unspeakably cruel and utterly devoid of respect for animals as sentient beings,” Lewis said.
“If fashion is an expression of ourselves to the outside world, wearing fur displays the very worst of humanity. Because it says it’s OK to subject animals to the endless monotony of living every single day in an empty metal cage.
“It says it’s OK that they sometimes go mad trying to cope with deprivation. It says it’s OK that they sometimes cannibalise each other or self-mutilate.
“But none of these things is OK.
“Intensively rearing wild animals in tiny cages so that the fur trade can turn their broken bodies into cuffs and collars is simply unacceptable.
“Britain took a world-leading stand against such cruelty when we banned fur farming. And I would dearly love to see Britain lead the world again by banning the sale of fur, too.”
Each year the fur trade rears and kills more than 100 million animals, mostly foxes, chinchilla, mink, raccoon dogs and rabbits. Most are intensively farmed in battery-cage systems, and the rest are from wild animals caught in traps.
Last week the former chief executive of the British Fur Trade Association called on the prime minister to ban fur sales in the UK.
Mike Moser, who worked in the industry for a decade, branded it “anachronistic, barbaric and unnecessary”, and said the UK was hypocritical for importing fur.
In 2018, MPs debated a ban on fur sales in response to a 425,834-strong petition. Minister George Eustice said then that there was nothing in World Trade Organisation rules that precludes the UK from banning items on ethical grounds.
Many shoppers buy real fur unknowingly, believing it to be fake fur. Fur farms mean animal skins can be produced and sold cheaply – often at lower cost than faux fur. Real fur has sneaked into accessories such as pompoms and trims on hoods, bought by retailers for less than £10, Humane Society UK says.
Environment minister Lord Goldsmith said the images of fur farms were “stomach-churning” and once Britain’s future trading relationship with the EU was established, the government would be able to consider any steps on fur sales.