EU Legislation

Honour Tory promise to ‘scrap the Human Rights Act’, Theresa May warned

THERESA May was warned not to abandon a radical shake up of human rights laws following reports of preparations for a Government a retreat over the plan.

Theresa May - EU Convention on Human Rights

GETTY    Theresa May was warned not to abandon shake up of human rights law

Whitehall sources fear the Prime Minister is poised to order a fresh look at proposals for a British Bill of Rights to replace Labour’s Human Rights Act.She is understood to have told new Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss to revise a blueprint drafted by Michael Gove, her predecessor at the department, which was designed to stop criminals and terrorist suspects abusing human rights laws.

One source even suggested the plans for the most sweeping overhaul of rights legislation in two decades could now be “junked”.

But Tory MPs are worried the move will mean the Government is retreating from a key Tory election pledge.

Tory backbencher Philip Davies called for the Government to make its plans for human rights legislation clear.He said: “I am not bothered about a British Bill of Rights but the one thing she must do is scrap the Human Rights Act.

“If she ditched that, it would be a complete and utter betrayal of millions of people who voted Conservative at the last election.

Michael Gove

GETTY    Michael Gove drafted proposals for a British Bill of Rights

“Many of them voted Conservative because we promised to get rid of the Human Rights Act.”If she doesn’t scrap the Human Rights Act, it would upset me, many other Conservative MPs and millions of Conservative voters across the country.

“As Home Secretary, she should know better than anybody the damage that the Human Rights Act does.

“It would be completely and utterly unacceptable to abandon this policy.

Elizabeth Truss

GETTY    Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss is to review the bill proposed by Mr Gove

“But I don’t think we need a British Bill of Rights – our rights are already set down in laws laid down over the centuries, in documents like the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus and the original Bill of Rights.”Fellow Tory MP Philip Hollobone said: “Not only was the Bill of Rights in the manifesto, it was a key part of it and many of my constituents voted Conservative because of its prominence.

“This is not good news and displays an unfortunate sense of priorities.

“This was a key Conservative policy and it should remain so. Reform of our human rights legislation needs to be prioritised and any attempt to water down or delay that would be a bad thing.”It was the Liberal Democrats that were the problem in the last Parliament. There is no such excuse now.”

Mr Gove – who was sacked when Mrs May assembled her new Cabinet – had made progress in drawing up the new British Bill of Rights.The document was seen as a replacement for the Human Rights Act introduced by Labour in 1998. It was conceived as a way of curbing the influence of the European Court of Human Rights by giving UK citizens an alternative doc

After Mr Gove’s sacking, officials believe the policy could be heading for the dustbin.

Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon shaking hands

GETTY    Nicola Sturgeon is expected to oppose the British Bill of Rights

One source said: “The bill is ready but my hunch is that she might junk it. I think the priority for the justice department will be prison reform. I just don’t think the will is there to drive it through.”Sources say Mrs May is unenthusiastic about having a fight with Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government, which is expected to oppose to the British Bill of Rights.

The Prime Minister is also thought to be concerned that the proposed Bill of Rights included a commitment that Britain would remain signed up to the European Court of Human Rights.

Although she has ruled out withdrawing from the Strasbourg-based court in the current parliament, Mrs May has floated the idea about the UK leaving the body in the long term.

The Prime Minister has acknowledged that she cannot command a parliamentary majority for withdrawing from the court and has a big enough challenge delivering the country’s exit from the EU.A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We will set out our proposals for a Bill of Rights in due course. We will consult fully on our proposals.”

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Peter A Smith
Peter A Smith

This an utter betrayal of the British people. The European “Human Rights” bill starts from the premise that serfs have no rights, and condescends to give them some. A concept totally alien to the English people, though if Ms Sturgeon speaks for the Scots, not to them.
We should withdraw from the EU Court as a prelude to full Brexit. Now.
And Brexit now as well.

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