Ministers confirm they are prepared to leave the European Convention on Human Rights

The move would leave th UK alone in a club with Europe's last dictatorship Belarus

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Indy Politics

Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights is still ‘on the table’ as part of the Government’s changes to human rights law, ministers have said.

Justice minister Dominic Raab said that though leaving the Convention was not one of ministers’ aims, they would be prepared to do so to accomplish them.

“We will legislate for a bill of rights to protect our fundamental rights, prevent abuse to the system, and restore some common sense to our human rights laws,” Mr Raab told MPs in the House of Commons.

“Our plans don’t involve us leaving the convention, that’s not our objective, but our number one priority is to restore some balance to our human rights laws so no option is off the table.”

The European Convention on Human Rights is ratified by every country in Europe except Belarus, the continent’s last dictatorship.

Even quasi-authoritarian states on region’s fringes, including Russia and Turkey, are signatories.

Dominic Raab, a Justice Minister

Former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling first officially mooted leaving the convention last year but the exact nature of the Conservatives' plan has been subject to confusion.

Mr Raab said the Government had concerns with the Convention’s implementation by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, as well as domestic human rights law.

“Our concern has been less with the black-letter text of the convention and more with its implementation,” he said.

“Some of the problems have arisen from judicial legislation by the Strasbourg court, some through the operation of the Human Rights Act. We want to protect our fundamental rights but prevent abuse of the system.”


But Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn said the Government’s plan was contradictory and would reduce the Court to an “irrelevance”.

“On the one hand he says he supports the convention on the other hand he says all decisions must be made in British courts,” he said.

“If all decisions are made in British courts then the role of the ECHR will be an utter irrelevance to Britain and British people will then be denied the right of access to a treaty obligation that we signed in 1948.


The MPs were debating during Justice Questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday morning.

The European Convention on Human Rights was drawn up in the aftermath of WW2 in an initiative spearheaded by Britain.

British citizens can appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg or take cases in British courts under the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the convention in British domestic law and ensures that all arms of the British state abide by it.

Ministers are committed to scrapping the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights.