Home Secretary calls for Britain to leave the ECHR
In a recent speech on the forthcoming EU referendum, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, made it clear that she believes that the UK should stay in the EU but that the case for remaining a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) ‘is not clear’. She went on to say:
‘The ECHR can bind the hands of Parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity, makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals - and does nothing to change the attitudes of governments like Russia’s when it comes to human rights. So regardless of the EU referendum, my view is this. If we want to reform human rights laws in this country, it isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR and the jurisdiction of its court.’
May believes that a British Bill of Rights ‘decided by Parliament and amended by Parliament - would protect not only the rights set out in the Convention but could include traditional British rights not protected by the ECHR, such as the right to trial by jury.’
Conservative MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve said he was ‘Disappointed because [May’s speech] shows a lack of understanding of the positive impact the ECHR is for the EU’.
Meanwhile a Committee of Peers have warned that plans for a British Bill of Rights will undermine the UK’s moral authority, hinder the fight against international crime and could ‘unravel the British Constitution’.
The report, by the Lords European Union justice sub-committee, urges the Government to rethink plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. Baroness Helena Kennedy, who chair the Committee alongside three other Labour members, three Conservatives, three cross-benchers and two Liberal Democrats, said ‘The more evidence we heard on this issue the more convinced we became that the government should think again about its proposals for a British bill of rights. The time is now right for it to do so.’
For an update on the proposals announced in the Queen's speech see CRAE's policy briefing
CRAE is working with Equally Ours and other children’s organisations to speak out on how the Human Rights Acts is a crucial safety net for children.
Read Theresa May’s speech here.
Read the Guardian’s article on reactions to May’s speech here.
Find out more about Equally Ours here.
Read the Lords EU justice sub-committee report here.