Europe

Boris Johnson 'planning to withdraw UK from key human rights laws'

The prime minister is reportedly planning to withdraw the UK from significant European human rights laws, which could make it easier to deport refugees and asylum seekers.

Boris Johnson and Tory ministers are said to be considering opting out of key elements of the Human Rights Act (HRA), as the PM faces backlash over his new legislation that would override the Brexit agreement.

No 10 is looking at ways to change laws which protect asylum seekers by stopping deportations, along with fresh legislation making it harder to prosecute British soldiers for alleged crimes committed abroad, reported the Daily Telegraph.

The HRA became part of British law in late 1998 in a bid to include elements of legislation set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

A Whitehall review of human rights laws has reportedly already been carried out and its findings are set to be revealed ‘in the coming weeks’.

The Conservative manifesto had promised to ‘update’ the Act after Brexit, but negotiators in Brussels want the UK to commit to the ECHR as part of the terms of a Brexit trade deal.

But UK officials have claimed it is a matter of ‘sovereignty’ and refused.

It comes as the PM is set to push through a bill that would rip up parts of his own Brexit agreement, which the government has admitted could break international law.

Johnson is facing mounting cross-party criticism and a Tory rebellion over his plans, which would ‘row back’ on parts of the deal relating to Northern Ireland.

Shadow Justice Secretary Lord Falconer warned: ‘A future where (the) UK breaks its international law obligations, and opts out of Human Rights protections is a very bad future.’

The PM has warned that Brussels could ‘carve up our country’ without his new Bill.

Former prime ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair united to urge MPs to reject the legislation, saying it imperils the Irish peace process, trade negotiations and the UK’s integrity.

They wrote: ‘We both opposed Brexit. We both accept it is now happening. But this way of negotiating, with reason cast aside in pursuit of ideology and cavalier bombast posing as serious diplomacy, is irresponsible, wrong in principle and dangerous in practice.

‘It raises questions that go far beyond the impact on Ireland, the peace process and negotiations for a trade deal – crucial though they are. It questions the very integrity of our nation.’

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