I’m watching the squirrel in my garden. He’s hanging upside down on a branch so he can get at the bird feeder. Suddenly, he does a forward flip, lands on the branch above, and turns a hazelnut round and round in his paws like a ball. He is an acrobat, and a gymnast, and a basketball player. And now he’s off. He is a sprinter too.

Did I say it was a grey squirrel by the way? Does that change things? Because we’re told it should. The other day, a wildlife hospital in Leicestershire said a change in the law means it will now have to kill any grey squirrels brought to them to be treated. Animal hospitals used to be able to apply for a licence to treat greys. But not anymore. A new EU – yes, EU! – regulation says non-native species must be destroyed. If grey squirrels had a vote, they’d surely vote for Brexit.

So that means we can do our own thing in the UK now, doesn’t it, now that we’re leaving the EU? Brexit will save the grey squirrels (which would be ironic for animals portrayed as nasty little immigrants). But, sadly, no. The UK Government has confirmed it will be applying the EU regulation, which means that across the UK there will be no possible exemptions to the no-grey-squirrel rule.

I wondered if this could possibly be true so I phoned the SSPCA. If I had an injured grey squirrel, I asked them, and took it to you to look after, what would you do? The woman on the phone consulted a colleague but confirmed the truth: we would euthanise it. Ah yes, “euthanise”. When are we going to stop hiding our treatment of animals behind words? They would kill it.

But why? What’s the logic? Grey squirrels have been in this country for 120 years or thereabouts – so how long do you have to be here to be accepted? As for the reds, there was a time when we saw them in the same way as we now see the greys – reds were considered pests and it was common to hunt and kill them. Indeed, much of the current British stock of reds was reintroduced from Europe after the culls.

So, red is grey and grey is red; there is no difference, apart from our perceptions of them, which change, and the problem with the changing attitudes is the consequences for the greys. They can be killed whenever and in whatever way you want. There is no closed season so lactating females can also be targeted, meaning their kits will die over days or weeks, or however long it takes to starve to death. Even hunters refuse to kill mothers, and yet the greys are killed by “conservationists” such as Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. They deserve my sarcastic inverted commas.

The answer is to get over our fetish for labelling animals in a certain way and then trying to organise them according to those labels. I know there’s an argument about the greys giving the reds squirrelpox, but the argument here isn't about preventing suffering caused by a virus, it's about the perception that reds are British and greys aren't.

We are also told that, if unmanaged, the greys will take over and wipe the reds out. Again, it’s a dubious argument. For a start, there’s evidence that the reds may develop immunity to the virus and work is also being done on a vaccine. And, of course, there are some parts of Scotland where, because of the type of trees, the greys do not have as much of an advantage over the reds as they do elsewhere.

But perhaps the most important point is that the red squirrel is not an endangered animal – far from it, it is widespread on mainland Europe, it’s just that it is declining in the UK. I do not like that. It’s sad that there are fewer reds. But the decline is not a justification for inflicting suffering on the greys.

And yet our current policy results in the bizarre situation now being faced by animal sanctuaries. Imagine this: you find a grey squirrel that’s been hurt. You either take it to a sanctuary where someone will kill it or you kill it yourself. And why? Because of the colour of its fur. It’s perverted and weird and, in a society that needs to preserve and promote its biodiversity, it makes no sense. I will continue to encourage the greys in my garden. I will continue to feed them and protect them. Come on you greys.