so here is what my mp had to say - basically I'm wrong
Thank you for contacting me about animal rights.
I have been appalled by the misleading newspaper headlines such as "MPs vote 'that animals cannot feel pain or emotions' in Brexit bill" which have caused such an incorrect impression about our legislative processes. Nothing is being changed in UK law, and Parliament is not denying that animals are sentient. I hope the following will clarify this for you.
The UK, before entering the EU, already recognised animal sentience in UK law, and was in fact the country responsible for bringing this recognition into EU law. Even the proposer of the amendment, in her opening speech on the amendment, said:
"By way of background, in 1997-20 years ago-the UK Government, during their presidency of the EU, convinced the then 14 other member states that EU law should explicitly recognise that animals were sentient beings, and not simply agricultural goods like bags of potatoes that could be maltreated with impunity. In other words, it was a recognition that, like us, animals are aware of their surroundings; that they have the capacity to feel pain, hunger, heat and cold; and that they are aware of what is happening to them and of their interaction with other animals, including humans."
I understand the main reason was to harmonise the legal status of animals under the French Civil Code with its Penal and Rural Codes, which already recognised animals as having interests that could not apply to inanimate property. It made no change to the protections animals enjoy. UK laws are arranged differently, so it is not possible to draw a direct comparison between our legal regimes, but I did note that French legislators explicitly rejected bans on bullfighting and cockfighting, both of which are illegal here.
Dominic Raab's reply explains why the amendment was unnecessary:
"The reference to animals as sentient beings is, effectively, a statement of fact in article 13, but even though it is, in effect, declaratory, I can reassure the hon. Member that it is already recognised as a matter of domestic law, primarily in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. If an animal is capable of experiencing pain and suffering, it is sentient and therefore afforded protection under that Act."
The UK's animal rights laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, already afford animals protection in the UK, regardless of the inclusion or exclusion of the term 'sentient'. In fact, based on the Animal Welfare Act, the Animal Protection Index, maintained by World Animal Protection, rates the UK's formal recognition of animal sentience as grade A. Other Lisbon Treaty signatories such as France, Italy and Spain do not enjoy this rating, having each received grade C.
I certainly would not want to import lesser standards of care from the EU for animals into the UK.
I hope the above clarifies this for you. All the quotations are taken from the transcript on Hansard, which can be found here:http://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-11-15/debates/7A700C0E-8BA2-4EEC-B53D-997028C06900/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Bill