No.10 Refuses To Deny Reports That UK Could Withdraw From ECHR

Downing Street insists that its plans to tackle the small boats crisis would be compatible with international obligations.
No.10 said its policy to tackle small boats in the channel would be "compliant with our international obligations".
No.10 said its policy to tackle small boats in the channel would be "compliant with our international obligations".
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Downing Street has not denied that the government could take the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights if it opposes measures to tackle the small boats crisis in the Channel.

Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson played down reports the prime minister could withdraw from the international convention, saying that there were “no plans” to do so.

They said he was confident that the PMs plans to tackle crisis would achieve that aim while also being compliant with the ECHR.

But asked if withdrawal from the convention was being considered as a “plan B” option, the spokesperson said: “I wouldn’t get into future speculation.”

A new rift has opened up in the Conservative Party following reports in the Sunday Times that the prime minster is mulling withdrawing the UK from ECHR if European judges deemed his new immigration rules to be unlawful.

The Times reported days earlier that Sunak is considering two options to tackle migration across the Channel in small boats.

The first would withdraw the right of those who arrive illegally to appeal against their automatic exclusion from the asylum system, while the second proposal would allow people to lodge an appeal only after they had been deported.

In anticipation of the opposition from the European Court of Human Rights, Sunak is said to prepared to put withdrawal from the convention in its next election manifesto, helping to draw a clearing dividing line with Labour on immigration.

Asked about the reports, the spokesman said there had been a “great deal of speculation”.

“You heard from the prime minister himself where he said, first and foremost, he wants to put an end to the exploitation of our laws through reform of the system,” he added.

“We will of course comply with all our international obligations, and we are confident the measures being worked through will tackle the problem while being compliant with the ECHR.”

Pressed on whether the government was drawing up proposals to leave the ECHR, the spokesman said: “There are no plans for government to take that approach.

“The policy both in terms of this and elsewhere will be compliant with our international obligations.”

While some Tories, including red wall MP Jonathan Gullis, have been calling from the UK to leave the ECHR, others have been left aghast at the prospect.

Politico reported that Jackie Doyle-Price, the MP for Thurrock, said in a Tory whatsapp group that “willy waving about leaving the ECHR will do zilch” while adding: “Upholding the law should never be a matter for debate for a Conservative. Our Home Office is crap. If the government wants to have a phone[y] war over the ECHR instead of sorting itself out it can do it without me.”

Tory MP David Simmons also said that the ECHR was “not the issue” and the UK was bound to fall foul of the courts, while foreign affairs select committee chair Alicia Kearns said the UK could not tackle asylum claims “when we haven’t given ourselves the legal grounding on coming here illegally”.

Asked about Conservative MP backlash to the reports, the spokesman replied: “We will set out the policy details fairly soon, so they will be able to see for themselves an approach we believe both fundamentally deals with this ongoing issue, which is one of both fairness and safety, but also remains complaint with ECHR.”


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