Grasp the nettle and scrap the Human Rights Act

May 23, 2020 by

By Jim McConalogue, The Conservative Woman:

THE government is facing a momentous dual challenge to reform the draconian 1998 Human Rights Act – that great lawyers’ charter – over the coming months. First, Sir Stephen Laws, former first parliamentary counsel responsible for drafting government laws, indicated that the government should derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights to hold off legal challenges to the easing of lockdown rules in the ‘dangerous’ weeks ahead. Second, during the Brexit trade negotiations on Friday, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier continued to criticise the UK for refusing to commit to the Euro-centric rights in the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK already incorporates the Convention into law through the 1998 Act. Given the depth of those challenges, it has become difficult to reconcile Boris Johnson’s continuing defence of that law with the ability to govern across all areas of law despite their obstacle to the government’s own objectives.

The pervading question still remains: given the perils it imposes, why then leave the Human Rights Act intact? Why continue to incorporate European Convention rights, given the restrictions they impose in all areas of government policy?

At the core of the problem is the failure of successive governments to challenge the follies of the Human Rights Act 1998 which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. After all, the Brexit process has shone a light on how our rights are no longer there to be administered by a foreign court or to remain unchallengeable by the public or left practically unamendable by parliament.

In a recent report for our think tank Civitas, Rebalancing the British Constitution, I have highlighted how the Human Rights Act should be abolished as Britain seeks to regain its ability to decide its own human rights laws within its own democratic public sphere. The Human Rights Act has had a long-lasting detrimental impact on the UK constitution, emboldening a judicial supremacy of rights, far removed and insulated from the electorate.

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