Human Rights Act is not safe after Brexit

18 January 2019


In its response to a letter from the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee, the Government has failed to give assurances that it will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act – a stark contrast to its proclaimed commitment to ‘shared values of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee wrote to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke in December regarding the rights of citizens post-Brexit. The Committee sought an explanation for the dilution of the Government’s commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Last week the Committee received a troubling response. While again pledging an unchanging commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, the letter from Edward Argar MP, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, ended with reference to the Government’s intention to revisit the Human Rights Act once the process of leaving the EU is concluded.

Chairman of the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, said: “We have repeatedly asked the Government for assurances regarding citizens’ rights post-Brexit, deal or no deal. Again and again we are told that the Government is committed to the European Convention on Human Rights, but without a concrete commitment, and with messaging that is changing and becoming diluted.

“Is the Government sincere in its commitment to the ECHR?  If so, why has it failed to give assurances that it will not repeal or reform the Human Rights Act, which in essence incorporates the rights set out in the ECHR into domestic British law?”

Subscribe to Lords newsletter

Sign up for the House of Lords newsletter for the latest news, debates and business