Brexit must not weaken UK animal health and welfare standards

Brexit will impact on all areas vets care about. We’ve not taken a position on leave or remain, but a no-deal Brexit must be taken off the negotiating table because of the very serious consequences for animal health and welfare, trade, and our veterinary workforce.   

Brexit and the veterinary profession #Brexit

What impact will Brexit have on the veterinary profession?

EU membership has had a profound effect on the day to day working lives of vets. From animal health and welfare legislation and the availability of medicines, to the impact of free movement on our workforce and the rules that govern trade in animals and animal products.

Our overarching approach to Brexit is that existing animal health, animal welfare, public health, veterinary medicines, workforce, and environmental protection standards must at least be maintained. We’re also keen to seize any opportunities to improve and enhance standards.

We must safeguard the UK's high reputation for animal health, animal welfare, and food safety. We’re campaigning for:

  • a veterinary workforce that has the capacity to meet the demands of a post-Brexit UK;

  • trade agreements that secure high standards of animal health, animal welfare, and public health;

  • animal health and welfare to be recognised and supported as public goods;

  • a law that recognises animals are sentient; and

  • continued access to veterinary medicines

calf in field

Why is BVA campaigning against a no-deal Brexit?

Our analysis of the impact of a no-deal Brexit (300 KB PDF) found that there could be very serious consequences for animal health and welfare, trade, and our veterinary workforce.

Although a lot of work has been done by Defra and a range of regulatory bodies to prepare, we’re not convinced that enough has been done to mitigate the potential negative impacts.

A no-deal Brexit would leave the UK with no time to transition and adjust.


We remain deeply concerned that: we won’t have the necessary workforce for veterinary export certification; that the loss of markets for trade could lead to overstocking and significant welfare problems or a cull of healthy animals; that border problems may hold up the supply of veterinary medicines; and that millions of pet owners don’t know if they will be able to travel with their animals.

We’ve also raised concerns that new trade deals could compromise the UK’s high animal health and welfare standards, and that the government has still not enshrined animal sentience into UK law.

How you can get involved

  • Write to your MP to support our calls for high standards of animal health, animal welfare, public health, and food safety to be included in any future trade deals.

  • Contact our policy team for more information.

  • Join the debate on social media and tag @BritishVets

  • Share your thoughts, opinions, and experiences of working in the profession by joining our Voice of the Profession Survey Panel.