Tory Splits Erupt Over Calls For UK To Quit European Court Of Human Rights

Some cabinet members believe the party should include the pledge in their next election manifesto.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber in Strasbourg.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber in Strasbourg.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tory splits have erupted over calls for the UK to quit the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Senior party figures - including some cabinet members - are believed to support the move and want it to form part of the Conservatives’ next election manifesto.

They are frustrated that the government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda has been stalled because of legal challenges.

Among those thought to support leaving the ECHR are home secretary Suella Braverman.

One former cabinet minister told HuffPost UK that a promise to quit the European court could be a major vote-winner for the Tories at the general election.

Lee Anderson, the Tories’s deputy chairman, told GB News that “drastic measures” will be needed if the government continues to be blocked by the European court.

He said: “I’ve always been an advocate of leaving, but you know, we’re a team. And if things don’t work, if things don’t go to plan, then we’ve got to take drastic measures and I would fully support the government in doing that.”

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick refused to rule out the move when asked about it yesterday.

He said the government was willing to do “whatever is necessary ultimately to defend our borders”.

But that has sparked a backlash by other top Tories, including former Brexit secretary David Davis.

He said: “Calls to leave the ECHR are from those who clearly do not understand the basis of the problem.”

Davis said Sweden had managed to reject 100% of asylum applications from Albanians “by writing their laws completely within ECHR and [European Court of Justice] case law”.

“This is not difficult,” he added. “The primary problem is an operational one inside the Home Office. We have to address the difficulties there, including the backlogs and badly drafted regulations.”

Former Tory MP Jerry Hayes said: “To say we can get people going to Rwanda, we can stop the small boats, we just need to get rid of the European Court of Human Rights is just absolute dangerous nonsense.”

Sir Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of the Commons justice committee, said it would be “a completely foolish idea and absolutely wrong” for the UK to leave the ECHR.

And Tory MP John Howell told PoliticsHome there was “no majority at all” in the parliamentary party to come out of the ECHR.

A government spokesperson told the BBC: “The government has been clear that it will abide by its international treaty obligations.

“As we’ve set out previously - we believe our Stop the Boats Bill will deliver the changes necessary to reduce the incentives for people to risk their lives through illegal crossings while remaining party to the ECHR.”


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