Fox hunting is back on the agenda in Britain, and it's getting bloody.

Prime Minister David Cameron's government announced a vote to loosen a decade-old ban on the divisive blood sport — then unexpectedly called it off Tuesday when it looked set to fail.

Fox hunting has long divided Britons. Opponents consider it a cruel pastime reserved for the rich, while supporters say it is an important part of rural life.

Cameron's Conservative government had announced a vote on what it called "technical amendments" to the hunting ban in England and Wales. Opponents called it an attempt to legalize hunting by stealth.

The separatist Scottish National Party announced Monday that it would oppose the changes — even though the party had promised to vote only on issues that affect Scotland.