Theresa May plans to take the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights, according to new reports.
The Telegraph says that the Prime Minister plans to fight the 2020 election on a platform of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The PM plans to “lift and shift” rights protections so people in the UK can only seek rights protections in UK courts. If correct, this would be the first time that any major party has promised to take the UK out of the ECHR altogether.
The ECHR is an international treaty which the United Kingdom signed up to after World War II. It contains a list of human rights and fundamental freedoms necessary to live a dignified life. The UK was instrumental in drafting the treaty and was amongst the first signatories in 1950. It came into force in 1953.
The government had promised to replace the Human Rights Act with a “British Bill of Rights”, but those plans appear to have been put on the back burner since the UK voted to leave the European Union earlier this year. The Telegraph reports that May “has decided that she cannot start that fight with the prospect of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union set to dominate Parliament over the next few years.”
The report goes on:
A senior Government source said: “We would have been looking at having a huge row with a Parliament to get through the Cameron plan and we might even have failed. A clean break is by far the best option and, if we put it in the manifesto, even those Tory MPs who are squeamish about the idea will have to get behind it. A manifesto pledge also means the Lords will have to let it through eventually. All the signs are that the Prime Minister is up for this.”
The 2020 Election is still just under four years away, and much could happen between now and then – particularly given the uncertain politics of Brexit. This report could be no more than a “balloon” being raised to see how people react. It could also be no more than an attempt to address concerns to the right of the Tory Party that the Bill of Rights plans seem likely to be seriously delayed.
However, May has advocated ECHR-withdrawal before, so this would be a consistent move. If it is true, then it could signal a very significant change to UK human rights protections, as well as a potential major blow to the Convention system which the UK helped create.
Featured image: Tom Evans via Flickr