Fears that replacing the Human Rights Act with an arbitrary ‘Bill of Rights’ will harm the Northern Ireland peace process have already been voiced.
Now it seems the Bill may be used to appease Eurosceptics if the UK votes to remain in the EU, by weakening the power of the European Court of Human Rights.
It just goes from bad to worse.
The idea – of replacing internationally-agreed principles with a document that says what Conservative MPs think the rest of us should be allowed to do – was always bad but now it is verging on the ridiculous.
It seems unlikely that the devolved assemblies of Scotland and Northern Ireland would support such a Bill, and that doesn’t mean Wales will go for it either.
So it could trigger a constitutional crisis as well.
And Michael Gove says it may not be as “radical” as was originally planned – what a disaster that must have been!
The government’s proposed bill of rights will hamper the fight against crime, undermine the UK’s international moral authority and could start “unravelling” the constitution, a cross-party parliamentary committee is warning.
A critical report by the House of Lords’ European Union justice sub-committee urges ministers to rethink plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and highlights fears expressed by the Irish government that the policy could damage the Northern Ireland peace process.
Publication of the draft legislation, which is intended to replace the Human Rights Act, has been repeatedly delayed despite the bill of rights being a Conservative party manifesto pledge. It is now expected after the EU referendum.
While the justice secretary, Michael Gove, has implied the bill may not be as radical as originally envisaged, others fear that a vote to remain within the EU on 23 June could force Downing Street to appease disappointed Brexiters with a more substantial attack on the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. Last month the home secretary, Theresa May, a supporter of remaining in the EU, called for the UK to abandon the European convention of human rights.
“Were the UK to depart from the standards of human rights currently recognised within the EU,” the report states, “the system of mutual recognition which underpins EU justice and home affairs cooperation would be hampered by legal arguments over its application to the UK.
“We urge the government not to introduce domestic human rights legislation that would jeopardise the UK’s participation in this important area of EU cooperation in the fight against international crime.”
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