Protests turned to celebrations as hundreds of anti-fox hunting campaigners demonstrated outside of parliament today (14 July) after David Cameron suspended his plan to relax the law around the blood sport.
The prime minister pulled his proposal after the 56-strong SNP said it would vote against his statutory instrument to amend the 2004 Hunting Act so that more than two dogs (the current limit) could be used to "flush out" a fox during a hunt.
Cameron had planned to hold a free vote on the issue in the House of Commons on 15 July.
But with Labour opposing the move and some Tory MPs expected to rebel against their leader, the numbers were tight.
The nationalist intervention turned the odds against Cameron and meant he could face an embarrassing defeat if he went ahead with the vote.
Brian May, the Queen guitarist, was one of the most prominent demonstrators on the Old Palace Yard and was greeted with cheers from the crowd when he announced the news. "Today and tomorrow, foxes won't be pushed back into persecution as they were before," he said.
The long-time countryside campaigner said the SNP, who do not usually vote on non-Scottish matters, had made an "enormous contribution" by opposing Cameron's amendment.
But May claimed his side would have won in the Commons without the SNP "because we have a large number of Tory MPs on our side".
The rock star stood side-by-side with Angus Robertson, the SNP's leader in Westminster who attacked Cameron as a "coward".
"What seems to have happened is that it was obvious to Cameron that, after the decision from the SNP last night, the government would lose. My message to Cameron is that you are a coward," the Moray MP blasted.
Robertson said the Scottish government would look into the effectiveness of the ban north of the border, which allows fox hunters to use a full pack of hounds.
But Cameron hit back at the nationalists and said he found their position to be "entirely opportunistic and very hard to explain in any other way".
The government have said the issue will be debated again in autumn after the controversial "English votes for English laws" rules come into force.
The U-turn comes after the prime minister, a former member of an Oxfordshire hunt, had promised a free vote to MPs on repealing the ban in the run-up to the election.
John Bryant, a demonstrator from Tunbridge Wells, told IBTimes UK: "I have just heard that Cameron has chickened out, knowing that he was going to lost tomorrow. What his tactics are going to be now we don't know. But he is a psychopathic hunter himself.
"You can say it's traditional – going back maybe more than 200 years – but it's not pest control because I am a pest controller and I deal with foxes. I've never had to harm a fox in order to solve a problem."