Theresa May Promises Scrapping Human Rights Act, Suggests Pulling Out Of European Court Of Human Rights

Theresa May has promised that a Conservative government would scrap the Human Rights Act and could go further by pulling out of its European obligations on rights altogether.

The Home Secretary told Tory activists the party must "consider very carefully our relationship" with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), suggesting it was restricting Britain's ability to act in the national interest.

Theresa May's speech covered her own department, but also the economy, foreign policy, health and welfare

The speech was well received by many Conservative activist on social networks, and will do nothing to dampen speculation that May is the safest bet to be next Tory leader.

May told the Victory 2015 conference staged by website conservativehome, that Britain must stop human rights laws interfering with its ability to protect the nation.

The confirmation comes after speculation last week that the Cabinet minister wanted to pull the UK out of the ECHR.

May said today: "We need to stop human rights legislation interfering with our ability to fight crime and control immigration.

"That's why, as our last manifesto promised, the next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and it's why we should also consider very carefully our relationship with the European Court of Human Rights and the convention it enforces.

"When Strasbourg constantly moves the goalposts and prevents the deportation of dangerous men like Abu Qatada, we have to ask ourselves to what end are we signatories to the convention?

"Are we really limiting human rights abuses in other countries? I'm sceptical. But are we restricting our ability to act in the national interest? Are we conceding that our own Supreme Court is not supreme?

"I believe we are. So by 2015 we'll need a plan for dealing with the European Court of Human Rights. And yes, I want to be clear that all options - including leaving the convention altogether - should be on the table."

Eyebrows will have been raised as the speech ranged far beyond her brief as Home Secretary, tackling public spending, privatisation, welfare, trade unions and foreign policy.

May laid out a comprehensive policy strategy of responsible capitalism for the Conservative party, with the focus on a "small, strong, strategic state."

She said the Tories were a "party for all", adding: "We have to become the party that is tireless in confronting vested interests, the party that takes power from the elites and gives it to the people, the party not just of those who have already made it, but the home of those who want to work hard and get on in life."

"We need to offer them security, not just from crime and foreign threats, but from everyday risks like falling ill, or losing your job.

"We need to promise them freedom, not just from the state but from vested interests like unions, big bureaucracy and, yes, big business."

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, said: "Even Theresa May has now lost confidence in George Osborne's economic strategy and in David Cameron's leadership.

"For the Home Secretary to set out a five point plan for economic and industrial policy just ten days before the Budget is a serious rebuke to George Osborne and his failure to deliver any plan for growth.

"And this is also a blatant political pitch to the right of the Tory party who are so cross with David Cameron. This political manoeuvring whilst the Tories offer nothing to the millions struggling with a cost of living crisis."

She added: "She says she wants freedom yet she wants to abolish the Human Rights Act which protects freedom of speech, freedom from torture and freedom of religion. And she wants to pull out of the European Convention which is protecting basic freedoms in emerging democracies across Europe and has nothing to do with her failure in deporting fewer foreign criminals.

"And she says she wants public sector reform to be effective even though her police commissioner elections were an expensive failure and 15,000 fewer police mean 30,000 fewer crimes solved and fewer criminals brought to justice.

"Yet it is clear that she is more concerned about appealing to right-wing Tory backbenchers and setting out an alternative to David Cameron and George Osborne than she is about a coherent policy for Government."

Picking up on the Westminster gossip earlier this week at Prime Minister's Questions, Labour leader Ed Miliband anointed Theresa May, who was sat close to the prime minister, as Cameron's successor. "I'm looking forward to facing her in opposition," he said.

The response from the Home Secretary? If looks could kill..