Theresa May speech: Tory conference erupts in applause as PM attacks 'activist left wing human rights lawyers'

Ms May says the UK is 'committed to a strong national defence and supporting the finest armed forces known to man'

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The Tory party conference erupted in applause as the Prime Minister jeered "activist left wing human rights lawyers" who "harangue and harass" Britain's armed forces.

Discussing forging "a bold new confident role for ourselves on the world stage," Theresa May said the UK was "always committed to a strong national defence and supporting the finest armed forces known to man".

She added: "And this week our excellent defence secretary, Michael Fallon, proved not only that we will support them with our heart and souls, not only will we remain committed to spending two per cent of our national income on defence, but we will never again in any future conflict let those activist left wing human rights lawyers harangue and harass the bravest of the brave: the men and women of our armed forces."

Her comments, which were met by sustained applause from the audience, came as ministers suggested soldiers could be made exempt from European human rights laws during future conflicts.

Under the proposals, British soldiers would be exempt from action under European Court of Human Rights law.

However, they would still be subject to International Humanitarian law, including the Geneva conventions and UK criminal law. 

Ms May said the move is necessary to ensure those “who serve on the frontline will have our support when they come home”.

She added: “We will repay them with gratitude and put an end to the industry of vexatious claims that has pursued those who served in previous conflicts.” 

Her plan was condemned by the father of an army recruit who died at Deepcut Barracks, who claimed it will make it harder for military families to hold the government to account.

Des James said it would also make it easier for the Ministry of Defence to "cover up" future failings. 

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