Home secretary undermines conventions
Suella Braverman threatens collective responsibility and human rights treaty
Suella Braverman has given her support to campaigners who are urging the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. Continued membership of the international treaty remains government policy.
In a paper about cross-Channel migrants called Stopping the Crossings, the Centre for Policy Studies think tank says:
Ultimately, we recommend that the government should be prepared to leave the ECHR if necessary.
In her introduction to today’s paper, the home secretary says:
While I do not agree with everything in this report, I welcome it as a vital and necessary contribution to the policy debate about what can be done to tackle the crossings.
The report’s main author is Nick Timothy, a Telegraph columnist who was Theresa May’s chief of staff in Downing Street. Reporting the proposals in the Sunday Times yesterday, the newspaper’s chief political commentator Tim Shipman said that Braverman’s decision to endorse it was “extraordinary”.
He’s right. Ministers simply do not write forewords to reports unless what they propose is fully in line with government policy. And withdrawing from the human rights convention is contrary to the government’s well-established position.
Less than two weeks ago, that was confirmed by the cabinet minister responsible for human rights policy, Dominic Raab. Asked whether his plans to reforms the Human Rights Act might interfere with the Belfast agreement that ended decades of violence in 1998, Raab told the Commons justice committee:
We are staying as a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. I think that satisfies the issue with the Good Friday agreement… The big changes, therefore, are about the procedural framework and how rights are interpreted. While that does have some substantive impact, it is nothing that will affect the functioning of the Good Friday agreement.
What, then, is going on?
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to A Lawyer Writes to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.