EIGHT out of ten people believe foxhunting should remain illegal, an animal welfare charity has claimed on the biggest day in the hunting calendar.

Thousands of people are expected to attend around 250 traditional Boxing Day Meets across the country today, including in Hampshire, as supporters continue their push for a new vote on the ban.

One of the biggest will take place when the New Forest Hounds stage their annual Boxing Day hunt, starting at the Balmer Lawn Hotel near Brockenhurst this morning.

The poll, carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA, found 80 per cent of the public want to keep the law, with support equally strong in both rural and urban areas.

It comes as supporters of foxhunting are pushing for a new vote on the ban, which had been promised by the coalition Government following the 2010 general election.

In October Prime Minister David Cameron said he has ''sympathy'' with calls for the rules on foxhunting to be loosened.

But Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said a new vote would be ''political suicide''. He said: ''Hunting is a sickeningly cruel blood sport, which, like us, the majority of the British public do not want brought back.

''Voting for repeal would be political suicide. We need to move forward as a nation, not backwards on matters of animal welfare, which is why we recently launched our national 'No Joke' online and cinema campaign to remind people of the sheer horror and animal cruelty hiding behind the 'traditional spectacle'.''

MPs and campaigners are pushing the Government to scrap the ban on using more than two dogs to flush out foxes so they can be shot.

Farmers say attacks on lambs have increased, and argue that limited pest control measures permitted under the 2004 Hunting Act are not working.

The poll questioned 1,983 adults face-to-face in Great Britain between November 1 and 7.