So the vote to relax the fox hunting ban in England and Wales has been postponed after the Scottish National Party’s decision to take part in the division made defeat almost certain – a move which Brian May has hailed as “a victory”.

“I’m obviously pleased that the Government have backed down,” the Queen guitarist said. “But it’s a minor victory in a sense. We need a major victory.

“And we need fox hunting to be kicked out for ever.”

He also criticised the Government for proceeding with a series of “underhand tricks”, saying: “I don’t feel very much joy, because I think it’s all been very underhanded. I don’t like to see a Government behave that way.”

The controversial vote, scheduled for tomorrow, would have brought the law south of the border in line with that in Scotland, where an unlimited number of dogs can be used to “flush out” a fox to be shot, compared with just two in England and Wales.