The Countryside Alliance (CA) has warned that the Conservative Party risks jeopardising 500,000 votes if it fails to pledge to repeal the ban on fox hunting in its manifesto for the May 2015 general election. At the same time they have called for a cabinet post dedicated to rural affairs.

At the moment pro-hunting MPs are reluctant to put the issue to a vote, fearing they would not have enough support for victory without an overall Conservative majority and a party pledged to repeal.

The CA says there is a constituency of about half a million people whose support depended on a pledge to abolish the controversial Hunting Act. A poll of the association’s members last year found 13% were planning to vote for UKIP next year.

Sir Barney White-Spunner, chairman of the CA said: “We would like to see a commitment to repeal, tempered with a realistic view that we need some sort of legal framework in which hunting would operate in the future.”