This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May received a letter from 31 of Britain’s biggest stars urging her to introduce a UK ban on animal-fur imports.

Fur farming has been illegal in the UK since 2000, but since then Britain has imported over £650 million worth of fur from countries such as China and Poland, where animals are typically bred in appalling conditions on fur farms.

The stars signed the open letter to show their support for the #FurFreeBritain campaign run by a group of prominent animal charities – Humane Society International UK, the RSPCA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Four Paws, Animal Aid, Brian May's SAVE ME TRUST, Viva!, The Jane Goodall Institute UK, and Open Cages – and supported by social network Care2.

The following celebrities have added their names: Alesha Dixon, Alison Steadman OBE, Sir Andy Murray OBE, Bill Bailey, Chris Packham, Douglas Booth, Evanna Lynch, Fearne Cotton, Gabrielle Aplin, James McVey, Jenny Seagrove, Jilly Cooper CBE, Joanna Lumley OBE, Joss Stone, Dame Judi Dench, Laura Whitmore, Lesley Nicol, Lucy Watson, Martin Clunes OBE, Melanie C, Nicky Campbell OBE, Paloma Faith, Ricky Gervais, Rula Lenska, Simon Amstell, Simon Pegg, Sue Perkins, Tiffany Watson and Twiggy.

The celebrity support comes as a UK Government and Parliament petition approaches its 23 March deadline and nears the target of 100,000 signatures required to trigger a parliamentary debate on the UK fur trade. An extract from the letter is below:

“Mrs May, the animal fur arriving in British ports is from animals who have suffered a lifetime in tiny barren cages, often driven insane by neglect. It is from animals who have been brutally electrocuted or gassed, and sometimes even skinned alive. It is from animals caught and left for days in barbaric leg-hold traps. They endure all of this to then have their fur processed into a frivolous trim on a hat, coat, shoe or handbag. We should not trade on their suffering.”

The full letter can be read here.

“We are delighted that so many of the UK’s best-loved celebrities have spoken out in favour of a Fur Free Britain,” says a Fur Free Britain campaign spokesperson. “Their words echo the calls from the vast majority of the British public who want to see an end to animal fur being imported onto our shores. The UK banned fur farming almost two decades ago because of animal suffering, but we continue to import that same cruelty from other countries such as Canada, China, Poland, and the US, where the appalling suffering continues. We urge Theresa May and her government to put an end to this double standard.”

More than 100 million animals suffer each year for the global fur trade, most of them reared in terrible conditions on fur farms. Naturally wide-ranging species such as raccoon dogs, minks, and foxes are subjected to physical and psychological torment in small, barren cages for their entire lives before being killed by gassing or electrocution and skinned. Wild animals caught for their fur, such as coyotes, fare little better – they languish in agony in cruel traps for hours or even days before dying or being killed.

Although fur farming is outlawed in the UK and EU, regulations ban imports of fur from domesticated cats and dogs and from commercial seal hunts, Britain still imports and sells the fur of a variety of other species, including foxes, rabbits, minks, coyotes, raccoon dogs, and chinchillas. Opinion polls show consistently high levels of public disapproval of fur, regardless of species – on average, 80 per cent of British citizens believe that it’s unacceptable to buy or sell animal fur in the UK.

The #FurFreeBritain campaign is calling on the government to make the UK a fur-free zone by extending the existing bans on imports of cat, dog, and seal fur to all fur-bearing species. As a member of the European Single Market, under rules relating to the free movement of goods, the UK is not currently at liberty to ban imports of animal fur, which is produced in several European countries. But Brexit gives the government the freedom to reflect the public’s distaste for all real fur and close our borders fully to this cruel and archaic trade.

The campaign is already gaining traction in Westminster; this month, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is conducting an enquiry into the UK fur trade. It has also gained support from a growing list of MPs of all political colours, including Conservatives Zac Goldsmith and Sir Roger Gale, Labour’s Kerry McCarthy, and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas.

Take action: the UK Government and Parliament petition to ban the sale of fur in the UK can be signed here.

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