Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Theresa May 'will campaign to leave the European Convention on Human Rights in 2020 election'

The European Convention on Human Rights is a separate entity to the EU and is upheld by the European Court of Human Rights 

Will Worley
Thursday 29 December 2016 10:10 GMT
Theresa May has advocated leaving the ECHR in the past
Theresa May has advocated leaving the ECHR in the past (Getty)

Theresa May is planning on making the case to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) a central aspect of her 2020 election campaign, according to reports.

She would reportedly plan to transfer the rights from the international body into British law, to be applied by the Supreme Court.

Ms May will be looking for a solid mandate from the British public – and a stronger majority in Parliament – to proceed with the controversial process of leaving the ECHR.

Critics have said the move, which goes further than David Cameron’s plans for a Britsh Bill of Rights, would weaken the rights of citizens.

A government source told The Telegraph: “A clean break [from the ECHR] 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.”

Government officials are also worried that the current preoccupation with Brexit would prevent proper attention being given to the issue.

“We have a few other things on our plate at the moment,” Attorney General Jeremy Wright recently told MPs, according to the newspaper. He added: “I think we will have to resolve those before we can resolve the matter.”

Mr Wright said the government had “no quarrel” with the content of the ECHR - upheld by the European Court of Human rights in Strasbourg - but its application gave the government “difficulty”.

The ECHR is separate to the European Union, which the UK voted to leave in the summer of 2016, but many Conservative MPs are disdainful towards British membership of the court. They say it prevents dangerous foreign criminals and terrorists being tracked and deported.

The Prime Minister herself has previously advocated leaving the ECHR, after experiencing difficulties during her time as Home Secretary deporting hate preacher Abu Qatada.

But the Good Friday Agreement, a key aspect of the Northern Ireland peace process, also depends on the ECHR. Critics have said withdrawing from the Convention would be “playing with fire”.

The ECHR also protects freedoms such as the prohibition of torture, slavery, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.

If implemented, the new laws would replace David Cameron’s plans to abandon the Human Rights Act for a British Bill of Rights. Unlike these previous proposals, where the European Court would have retained a role hearing appeals, Ms May is looking to break off all relations with the court.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in