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Lawyers divided: Has Theresa May made a U-turn on human rights?

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Keeping the Human Rights Act is a Tory manifesto pledge

Eyebrows have been raised today over what some are describing as a Tory U-turn on human rights legislation.

Prime Minister Theresa May and co’s manifesto states that the Human Rights Act 1998 — a firm feature of law student syllabuses — will not be repealed or replaced “while the process of Brexit is underway.” However, this position will be reconsidered post-EU withdrawal. It also says: “We will remain signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights for the duration of the next parliament.”

Yesterday, however, May said that when reflecting on the London Bridge terror attack, she thought “things have got to change”. She wants it to be made easier for authorities to deport foreign terror suspects, to do more to restrict their freedoms. And, she concluded:

[I]f human rights laws get in the way of doing these things, we will change those laws to make sure we can do them.

A Tory U-turn? Some lawyers have floated the idea:

Other Twitter users have been more forthcoming in their condemnation:

Many newspapers seem to be taking a similar line. Huffington Post went for the headline: ‘Theresa May Vows To Tear Up Human Rights Laws To Tackle Islamist Terrorism’. The Guardian said: ‘May: I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation’.

Joshua Rozenberg has a different view. Writing on his Facebook page this morning, the legal affairs commentator and honorary QC said:

[H]ave the Conservatives gone back on their manifesto commitments on human rights? I think not. Let me explain why.

His persuasive piece rightly points out that May’s use of “if” is crucial. “It is by no means clear that human rights laws do prevent parliament from doing more to restrict the freedom and movements of terrorist suspects,” he adds.

Later, he noted it’s possible to amend the act without breaching the Tories’ commitment not to repeal or replace it, shining a light on article 15 of the European convention. This article allows signatory states to derogate from the convention “in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation.”

Rozenberg continued:

Everything we know about the human rights court suggests it would give the UK what it calls a wide ‘margin of appreciation’ in dealing with terrorism… And, as Sir Keir Starmer said this morning, there is nothing in the Human Rights Act that gets in the way of effectively prosecuting terrorism.

But while Rozenberg appears content to conclude May has not broken her manifesto promise, that doesn’t mean he agrees with her latest comments. He finishes his informative piece with this: “What’s really needed though is not more laws. It’s more enforcement.” This seems to be a sentiment shared by lawyer David Allen Green:

With hours to go before we head to the polls, we wonder whether this human rights fiasco will help or hinder May’s chances of PM glory.

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36 Comments

REYNOLDS MAKES THE BEST TIN FOIL FOR HATS

THE TORIES ARE TANKING THIS ELECTION ON PURPOSE SO THEY DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE BREXIT CAR CRASH. PASS IT ON.

(4)(3)

Anonymous

I disagreed with this comment until I noticed the capital letters. Now I’m voting corbyn too

(2)(0)

Not Amused

I’m not sure this publication has benefitted from becoming so obviously politicised.

(4)(12)

Anonymous

Heh.

(2)(0)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Weird, you didn’t complain about the site being too political when Brexit was the hot topic and you could cheerlead it. I guess a lot changes in a year.

(16)(1)

Anonymous

Seems to be a strong and stable U-turn, so what’s the problem?

(5)(1)

Get in son

She is a nasty, horrible, vile lady and this is a desperate attempt to try and make her look a bit nicer and appeal to people.

It will not work, people see right through her. It is like Maxine Carr attempting to open up a nursery school. Jog on.

Corbyn could well be the Prime Minister after this election. The country will be a better place for it.

(11)(12)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Well said. I would remind all readers to vote for their local Labour Party candidates tomorrow, and assist in any GOTV campaigning your CLP is engaged in.

(7)(3)

Why so biased?

Clearly there is no space in the Corbyn World Order for alternative political opinions. Comply or be compared to someone convicted of being involved in child murder. My only question is why you didn’t just go the whole hog and compare her to Myra H?

(4)(5)

Get in son

Myra H is dead, she could not physically open up a nursery.

Alternative political opinions? Like what, savaging foxes with hounds in the countryside? Overseeing the cuts of 20,000 police officers? Respecting or trusting a lady who cannot even bring herself to debate with the opposition?

Most people who vote Conservative do it either because they are either clueless or one-track minded (and in the grand schemes not that wealthy), or, because they in the top 5% club and are trying to protect their wealth (and in some cases also clueless or one-track minded).

(10)(4)

Anonymous

Hear, hear.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Most corbyn supporters are insane

(3)(6)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

This is incorrect.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Let’s hope so. These so called “human rights” are partly to blame for why we have innocent people dying in terrorist attacks. We are at war and our laws, liberties, and welfare system are used against us by our enemies. The truthphobes can moan all they like about what I am saying, but that does not make it wrong or untrue.

We need to arm our police, put an end to ambulance chasing lawyers, impose tougher anti-terror laws and put an end to endless abuse of these so called human rights. It’s that or having to accept what Mayor Khan said, and embrace terrorism and death as a part of our daily life.

(10)(14)

Rupert from Esher

Do you so happen to be a brick layer from Huddersfield, or something of that ilk? You sound so common.

(3)(4)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

You are drastically and wilfully misrepresenting what Mayor Khan said. You are no better than Donald Trump.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Being no better than Donald Trump makes someone a far better person than Jeremy Corbyn and his gang of IRA sympathisers.

(0)(2)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Jeremy Corbyn deplores violence.

Donald Trump supports sexual assault.

You are not telling a convincing tale.

(0)(0)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Oh and now it turns out your girl TMay is going into an agreement with acutal terrorist lovers to shore up her failures of a government.

But I’m sure you have a convincing explanation for why this is okay.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Was that irony, or are we expected to take any of that seriously?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

“Mayor Khan”?? No British person would refer to him that way.

(0)(0)

Why so biased?

We have had two serious terror attacks since the manifesto was published. Is there anything wrong with responding to changing national circumstances (regardless of whether you agree with the policy or not)? Why does a policy change have to suddenly be a “U-Turn”? After a relatively neutral article by LC, it can’t resist a snipe at the end by calling the situation “a fiasco”. I’d like to hear LC’s proposals for dealing with terrorism.

(5)(3)

Get in son

People the war-mongering Tories should spend a bit of money on putting those 20,000 officers back on the streets rather than splurging it on needlessly inflated defence budgets, letting big corporations off of fines with a ‘slap on the wrist’, and other nonsensical things

(0)(0)

Anonymous

On Friday morning it will become apparent that the British people reject far left politics. Sadly I doubt the corbynite fanatics will get the message

(1)(1)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Imagine voting for a Prime Minister so cowardly she won’t face Jeremy Corbyn in a televised debate because you think she’s ‘strong’.

Stand up for Britain? May wouldn’t stand up if she was The Real Slim Shady.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Boom! The mic is dropped ….

(1)(0)

Anonymous

uuummmm…. PMQs?

(0)(0)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

I find this argument wholly unsatisfactory. Theresa May says that she has televised debates with Jeremy Corbyn each week in PMQs – this is entirely true. But PMQs only reaches a tiny audience of political nerds, obsessives and weirdos, such as myself. If she is so happy to do it week-in, week-out, why won’t she go on television to a bigger audience?

Imagine if I said “I can do backflips really well, I do them every day, it’s no problem for me at all, because I’m incredibly agile”, and then refused to show anyone. You might start to doubt I was less than sincere about my abilities.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Again with the thumbnail Katie? Come on, be a little mature please.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

It is perhaps too sad to be ironic to see how divisive labour supporters are on the internet, a really horrible and nasty ‘if you’re not with us’, mentality seems to be pervasive throughout this (and the 2015) election campaign. I expect they’ll all crawl back to their recently purchased ex-local authority flats, whilst moaning about the housing shortage, come Friday though

(0)(0)

Corbyn. Sympathiser

Acutally, Labour is good and cool.

I rent, by the way.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

I rented your mum

(0)(2)

Anonymous

This lady is more for turning than a break dancer on LSD.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

About time we had hanging back for serial killers, killers of children and those who plot terrorist incidents.

The suicide bombers are often the poorly educated mugs who listen to the mad mullahs.

I wonder how many who have been promised paradise have asked why their teacher hasn’t availed them self of it yet?

(0)(4)

Anonymous

Three dislikes but no-one prepared to argue it?

Come on! Show some backbone!

(0)(0)

Backbone

You’re an idiot. We are in the middle of the 2017 rope shortage and you think that bringing hanging back is sensible? Daft, we barely have enough rope for the shipping industry, never mind far fetched plans to hang people with it.

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.